The Indian Super League 2020-21 begins on November 20. It will be the seventh season of the league and this time, it will be played entirely in Goa due to the coronavirus pandemic. All the matches will be played in the three stadiums - GMC Stadium Bambolim, Tilak Maidan and Fatorda Stadium. ISL is the second sports event to be held in India post the coronavirus outbreak. The first was the I-League qualifiers, which was held in Kolkata in October.
The schedule for first 11 rounds of matches has been released already and features six double-headers - all of which will be played on Sundays. The schedule for the remaining 55 league matches will be published in December post clarity on calendar dates of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Competitions matches.
Ahead of the season, the transfer market was abuzz with all the teams looking around the world for players who would strengthen their squad. With the new ISL rule making it compulsory for all teams to have an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) player, most teams looked at the A-League in Australia to fill that quota. Even though ATK Mohun Bagan FC and Bengaluru FC retained a number of their players, most of the others have a completely fresh foreign contingent. Mumbai City FC, which is going to be coached by Sergio Lobera, has signed three former FC Goa players.
Currently, five foreigners can take the field for a team at one time, according to the ISL rules. From next year onwards, that will be changed to the 3+1 rule, in accordance with many other Asian leagues, where four foreigners can take the field at once with one of them an AFC player.
Since the inception of the ISL in 2016, foreigners have been seen as the tool to improve the quality of the teams and hence, the league. The foreigners have also proved to be a source of improvement for Indian players in the squad.
Here is the list of all the foreigners signed by the 11 teams:
ATK Mohun Bagan - Bradden Inman (AFC Player), David Williams, Roy Krishna, Tiri (Jose Luis Espinosa Arroyo), Carl McHugh, Edu Garcia, Javi Hernandez
Bengaluru FC - Juanan, Erik Paartalu (AFC Player), Dimas Delgado, Cleiton Silva, Deshorn Brown, Kristian Opseth, Fran Gonzalez
Chennaiyin FC - Enes Sipovic, Rafael Crivellaro, Eli Sabia, Memo, Esmael Goncalves, Jakub Sylvestr, Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev (AFC Player)
FC Goa - Edu Bedia, Igor Angulo, Jorge Ortiz, Ivan Gonzalez, Alberto Noguera, James Donachie (AFC Player)
Hyderabad FC - Joao Victor, Lluis Sastre, Aridane Santana, Odei Onaindia, Fran Sandaza, Joel Chianese (AFC Player)
Jamshedpur FC - Aitor Monroy, David Grande, Nerijus Valskis, Alex Lima, Peter Hartley, Stephen Eze, Nick Fitzgerald (AFC Player)
Kerala Blasters FC - Sergio Cidoncha, Facundo Pereyra, Vicente Gomez, Gary Hooper, Costa Nhamoinesu, Bakary Kone, Jordan Murray (AFC Player)
Mumbai City FC - Adam Le Fondre, Bartholomew Ogbeche, Hugo Boumous, Ahmed Jahouh, Hernan Santana, Mourtada Fall, Cy Goddard (AFC Player)
NorthEast United FC - Federico Gallego, Khassa Camara, Luis Machado, Dylan Fox (AFC Player), Benjamin Lambot, Kwesi Appiah, Idrissa Sylla
Odisha FC - Diego Mauricio, Marcelinho, Manuel Onwu, Steven Taylor, Jacob Tratt (AFC Player), Cole Alexander
SC East Bengal - Anthony Pilkington, Aaron Amadi-Holloway, Danny Fox, Matti Steinmann, Jacques Maghoma, Scott Neville (AFC Player)
Now, as the season gets set to kick off, News18.com has compiled some data on the foreigners under criteria like their market value, average age, Asia experience and so on.
HIGHEST MARKET VALUE (INDIVIDUAL)
The market value of all the players has been picked from Transfermarkt.
Kerala Blasters' Gary Hooper, an England national, has the highest market value of all the foreigners who have been signed in the transfer window ahead of the season. Hooper is a centre-forward with 207 career goals and the experience of playing in Scotland, England and New Zealand. He is followed by four players - Esmael Goncalves (Chennaiyin FC), Vicente Gomez (Kerala Blasters), Adam Le Fondre (Mumbai City FC), Idrissa Sylla (NorthEast United FC) - who are all at the same market value.
HIGHEST MARKET VALUE (CLUB)
Kerala Blasters is the club with the highest market value as the players signed by it have the highest average of market value. Off the seven players they have signed, Kerala Blasters have a total market value of Rs 329.12 million. After them come Robbie Fowler-coached SC East Bengal, who have a market value of Rs 210.38 million among the six players they have signed. Third on the list are ATK Mohun Bagan. The least valued club on the market is Jamshedpur FC.
East Bengal has the oldest foreign contingent in terms of the average age of all the six players while the youngest contingent is NorthEast United FC. Closest to NorthEast United FC are Mumbai City FC who have the average age of 30.
Position-wise, the forward foreign line-up of the ISL is the oldest while the midfielders are the youngest lot.
ASIA EXPERIENCE (CLUB-WISE AVERAGING PLAYERS)
Among all the foreigners in the clubs, Bengaluru FC's players have the highest average of experience in Asia. Be it Eric Paartalu and Dimas Delgado, who have been with Bengaluru FC or Cleiton Silva, who they have signed this season, Bengaluru have the wealth of Asia experience. On the other hand, NorthEast United are the most inexperienced in Asia. Their seven foreigners have played a total of 84 matches in Asia. Kerala Blasters were very close as well with 85 matches among seven players.
Asia experience (Player-wise)
MOST NATIONAL CAPS
Chennaiyin FC have among them a decent number of national campaigners, which gave them the highest average among the 11 teams. Their seven foreigners have a total of 120 national caps. SC East Bengal stood second with their six players having a total of 92 caps. ATK Mohun Bagan had 96 caps among seven players. None of Hyderabad FC's foreigners have any national cap while Bengaluru FC and Mumbai City FC were bottom of the barrel too with averages of 2.7 and 3.1, respectively.
MOST CAREER GOALS (STRIKERS)
Of all the centre-forwards in the league, Mumbai City FC's Adam Le Fondre has the most number of goals in his career, with all of them coming in clubs. Next in line is Gary Hooper, who also has no national caps and hence, scored all for his clubs. Roy Krishna, on the other hand, has 55 national caps for Fiji and has scored for both clubs and country.