The Indian Super League (ISL) conducted its players draft on Sunday and once it ended, there was a feeling of satisfaction among the teams. While the likes of Atletico de Kolkata, Bengaluru FC and Jamshedpur FC bagged few big names, other teams like NorthEast United and FC Goa preferred young local talents.
This year the ISL will have its fourth edition and it's fair to say that the league has grown over the years. The 10 clubs together spent Rs 48.85 crore while in 2014, the eight teams spent a total of Rs 24 crore to acquire all the players.
So as the teams splurged the cash, here's a look at some of the top picks from the draft and how all the 10 teams fared during the latest draft:
As a result of retaining three Indian internationals -- Jeje Lalpekhlua, Karanjit Singh and Jerry Lalrinzuala -- Chennaiyin FC could enter the draft only in Round 4 and their first buy was midfielder Thoi Singh. But their most impressive pick came in the later round with the purchase of Dhanpal Ganesh.
The defensive midfielder had a good season with Chennai City FC in the I-League which prompted coach Stephen Constantine to recall him into the national team squad earlier this year. Chennaiyin got Dhanpal at a good price of Rs 44 lakh and if he can maintain his fitness for a longer period of time then he can make big difference for his team.
They are one of the two newcomers to the Indian Super League but unlike Bengaluru FC, they did not own any players. So they had the chance to pick the first player in the draft and it wasn't surprising to see them pick Anas Edathodika for Rs 1.1 crore.
The 30-year-old centre back is considered to be one of the best players in the country as he was consistently a standout performer for the national team and I-League side Mohun Bagan. When it was revealed that both Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Anas had similar prices in draft, the temptation to splurge that kind of amount on a midfielder would've been high but Jamshedpur FC made a wise choice by spending that amount on a solid defender.
Another impressive purchase from the newcomers was that of veteran Mehtab Hossain. The former East Bengal man has been playing top-level football close to 14 years, so his experience will come in handy in midfield.
The ISL hasn't started yet but Bengaluru FC have already impressed thanks to their performance during the draft. They spent the most among all clubs -- 6.01 crore -- but managed to buy five of their former players. The club got hold of goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte along with Harmanjot Khabra, Lenny Rodrigues, Alwyn George and local-boy Calvin Abhishek.
Apart from ex-players, BFC also bought seasoned players like midfielder Boithang Haokip and defenders Rahul Bheke and Zohmingliana Ralte. When asked about missing other players like Eugenson, coach Albert Roca said, "We cannot have all the players we want. Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Rino and Chhuantea have been important players for the club, but we knew it was impossible for us to get all our choices." BFC did not have a great I-League last time but now that they'll play in the ISL and considering the team they have (with Sunil Chhetri as captain) they are definitely one of the favourites for the title.
The defending champions ATK bought players like Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Robin Singh, Keegan Pereira, all of whom played for Bengaluru FC at some point the past. The obvious BFC connection is because of Ashley Westwood. Now the Technical Director of ATK, Westwood picked few key players for the upcoming season who had already played under him when he was the coach of BFC.
Jayash Rane, who won the I-League with Aizawl FC was another solid addition for the Kolkata side. Head coach Teddy Sheringham was dependent on Westwood to get the right players and now it's all up to him to make an impact. Westwood also went on record saying the final decisions regarding players and on-field strategy will be solely in the hands of Sheringham.
It was the only team that didn't retain any players so they got the chance to pick their choice in the first round itself. After Jamshedpur got Anas, the Dynamos caught hold of the talented goalkeeper Albino Gomes. It made sense because of the five foreign players rule. Unlike last seasons, ISL clubs can now field only five foreign players instead of six. So that means clubs were not keen to keep a foreign goalkeeper. After Gomes, another talented right back Pritam Kotal also came in followed by left back Sena Ralte and teenager Lallianzuala Chhangte. Apart from Indian players, Delhi will also rely on signing few big names from outside the country.
FC Pune City
The club's strategy to go for youth over experience in draft might backfire during the league but they should be appreciated for having a clear-cut policy. The inclusion of Kean Lewis, who was outstanding for Delhi Dynamos in last year's ISL and Isaac Vanmalsawma, who had a brilliant last season with Shillong Lajong, is testament to the club's policy of buying players with lot of potential. They might not go all the way in the upcoming season but maybe they are aiming towards a better future.
Mumbai City FC
Last edition's table-toppers Mumbai City FC did not attract much attention in terms of players during Sunday's draft session but on paper, they still have a pretty balanced side. They had retained the services goalkeeper Amrinder Singh and midfielder Sehnaj Singh but couldn't do much with regard to Sunil Chhetri. The striker played two seasons with the Mumbai club but he was eventually retained by his I-League club Bengaluru FC.
In the press conference, Chhetri was very gracious towards Mumbai City FC by saying he won't celebrate if he scores against them. The franchise's other notable buys were Balwant Singh, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Raju Gaikwad, Aibor Khonjee, and Sanju Pradhan.
Kerala Blasters FC
The club's head coach Rene Moulensteen was the assistant manager at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson but when it came drafting players, assistant coach Thangboi Singto was the main man. Having retained local hero CK Vineeth, the club boosted their attack by bringing in influential attacker Jackichand Singh. They also managed to keep country's finest defender Sandesh Jhingan and also added the likes of Rino Anto, Lalruatthara and Milan Singh.
The club added as many as nine players from the region but the most notable ones were midfielder Lalrindika Ralte and forward Holicharan Narzay. The team's owner and film actor John Abraham said the club's goal is to play attractive football and majority of the players should be from the north-east.
They also got two players -- Malengnamba Meitei and Sushil Meitei -- from I-League second division champions Neroca FC, with whom they signed a five-year strategic partnership.
Their drafting game was similar to that of NorthEast FC as both clubs preferred local talents to build their respective teams. Having retained goalkeeper Laximant Kattimani and midfielder Mandar Rao Desai, their biggest drafts were Narayan Das and Pronay Haldar for Rs 58 lakhs each. The club was also able procure the services of a talented local boy Brandon Fernandes for just Rs 27.5 lakhs.
Updated Date: Jul 25, 2017 19:41 PM