THE ISL DRAFT is here. After a long wait, the monopolised instant transfer market for the Indian Super League is set to open and shut tomorrow, and within those few hours the 10 teams in the cash rich league will try to eke out a skeleton of a team, waiting for their turn in each round to lay dibs on players out of a long list of 200-odd names.
The players in the list represent the established cream of the crop in Indian football. They vary in experience, from rookie to national team veterans. And their price tags are anywhere between Rs 4 lakhs and Rs 1.1 crore.
But it's not necessary that players with establish records, loads of experience and hefty price tags are the absolute best of the lot. Due to ISL employing a low number of Indian players over the last 3 years, the fresh young talent had to flourish elsewhere. The I-League became the platform for the true emerging players to showcase themselves and gain top division experience; a role that will be magnified in the upcoming season due to ISL claiming the services of most of the old names.
But right now, the ISL draft features some highly talented players who have proven themselves at the highest level of domestic football, and through that even claimed a place in the India U-23 squad and even the senior national team camp. The clubs they played for benefited greatly from their service.
All these youngsters are Indian football stars in their own right, and they have not played a single ISL match yet.
In this piece, TFG takes a look at some such players who will be smart picks for ISL franchises from the draft, despite having no experience playing in that league.