ISL 2017: Top Five Overseas Stars To Watch Out For In The Fourth Edition of the League
Once again, there are few players in the league who are arguably a notch or two above their counterparts and the onus is on them to fire their respective sides to glory in the forth edition of the competition.
File image of Dimitar Berbatov. (Getty Images)
The fourth edition of the Indian Super League is all-set for a blockbuster start with Kerala Blasters taking on defending champions ATK at their home ground in Kochi. Unlike the first three years, the ISL table will see 10 teams, resulting in the number games being increased by about a third. That, obviously means the league would need a bigger window in the sporting calendar – 4 months in comparison to 2 in the previous editions.
Over the years, we have seen some legendary players from around the world, take centerstage in India and enthrall the fans with their sublime skills. In the first three editions of the tournament, these superstars have combined well with the Indian players and together they have taken the game to a different level in the country.
Once again, there are few players in the league who are arguably a notch or two above their counterparts and the onus is on them to fire their respective sides to glory in the forth edition of the competition. Let's take a look at few of these overseas stars who are ready to take the ISL 4 by storm -
Dimitar Berbatov: Kerala Blasters
Former Manchester United first team coach Rene Meulensteen pulled off a coup when he convinced Bulgarian legend Dimitar Berbatov to join him on his Indian sojourn at Kerala Blasters. The fact that these two know each other well from their times at Manchester United and Fulham, it works in favour of the Blasters.
Berbatov is known for his deft touches and sublime goals and he is best known for winning the Premier League title with Manchester United in 2011, when he also shared the golden boot with Carlos Tevez. Berbatov is also the highest scorer in Bulgarian national team’s history.
Robbie Keane: ATK
Robbie Keane has played for the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham and Inter Milan (loan) in the past and that in itself says it all about the credentials of the star striker. The former Republic of Ireland skipper Robbie Keane is all set to take the ISL by storm now and give the doubters a massive surprise who think that the striker is well past his prime.
Although, Keane will miss the start of the league because of an injury that he picked recently but when he returns, no doubt ATK will be a team to be reckon with. Recently, Keane picked up three titles with LA Galaxy in the Major League Soccer (MLS) in the USA and scored 83 goals in just 125 matches. The ATK fans will be hoping he brings the same rich goal-scoring form in the ISL as well.
Iain Hume: Kerala Blasters
No Indian Super League list is complete without the charismatic Canadian striker Iain Hume, who already enjoys a cult status amongst his fans. With 23 goals to his name in three seasons, Hume is the leading goal scorer in the tournament’s history.
After spending the first season with the Blasters, Hume joined ATK for two seasons, where he lifted the title once as well. But the star striker is back with the Blasters, and if he builds a telepathic understanding with Berbatov early on in the league, then expect the Yellow Brigade to do wonders in the competition.
Marcelinho: Pune City FC
The Brazilian may not be a huge worldwide name like his aforementioned counterparts but the one thing that works in his favor of Marcelinho is that he has already produced the goods in the ISL. Last season, he turned out for the Delhi Dynamos and took the league by storm as his team achieved their best finish in the competition's history so far.
Marcelinho also won the Golden Boot award as he found the back of the net a whopping 10 times for the Dynamos, while he also had five assists to his name. Expect more of the same from the hitman in the fourth season of the league.
John Johnson: Bengaluru FC
'Attackers win you matches, but defenders win you titles' - These are the famous words of the legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and it fits well with Bengaluru FC defender John Johnson. The Englishman played a more than important role at the back in Bengaluru FC's I-League winning campaigns in 2013-14 and 2015-16.
Meanwhile, Johnson has also proved in the past that he is a valuable asset in the attack as well. In 123 appearances that he made for Bengaluru FC since 2013, the defender has netted as many as four times. If Johnson is able to bring his A game into the ISL, expect Bengaluru to go far into the tournament.
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