ISL 2020-21: Top 10 Young Indian Talents to Watch Out For
Phrangki Buam (L), Ishan Pandita (C) and Vikram Pratap Singh (Photo Credit: Phrangki, Ishan and Vikram Instagram)
Ever since its inception, the Indian Super League has provided young Indian players with the platform to rise up to the occasion and the show their talent against the biggest footballing names in the country. From Sandesh Jhingan who came from nowhere and became a vital cog in the wheel for Kerala Blasters, then India, to Sahal Abdul Samad and Anirudh Thapa who brought a different dynamism to the India football team's midfield. The ISL has been the platform where they showcased their talents.
Now, this season with the inclusion of one more team, Kolkata giants SC East Bengal, and the expansion of squads, more and more budding Indian footballers should get the chance to rub their shoulders with the best in the business in this country.
So, let's take a look at 10 such exciting talents who have the potential to become future stars:
1. Phrangki Buam (Midfielder, FC Goa)
If you are a follower of Indian football then you know who and what Phrangki Buam is. The Meghalaya born attacking midfielder took Indian football by storm when he scored 6 goals in the 2018-19 season of I-League for Shillong Lajong. He spent last season on loan at Bengaluru United where he continued with his impressive performances. His signature was secured by FC Goa for an undisclosed fee on a three-year contract.
2. Ishan Pandita (Forward, FC Goa)
This Delhi-born footballer created un uproar when he was signed by Spanish club Leganes U-19 side a few years back. His stay in Spain wasn't really a successful one with injuries and dip in form. However, he would hope to turn things around when he takes the field for the Gaurs, who signed him on a one-year deal. The teams' style of play with a host of Spanish players should suit the 22-year-old and it could well turn out to be the breakout season for the forward.
3. Vikram Pratap Singh (Forward, Mumbai City FC)
The next big thing about Indian football. This Minerva Academy cadet has had two good seasons for the Indian Arrows where he found the back of the net 5 times in 27 games. His claim to fame was India U-16's dream run at the AFC U-16 Championships in 2018 where they reached the quarterfinals and almost qualified for the World Cup. Pandita played a major role in that. The 18-year-old joined the Islanders on a deal which will keep him at the club until 2023, with an option to extend for a further year.
4. Sahil Sheikh (Midfielder, ATK Mohun Bagan)
This Mohun Bagan academy product already showed glimpses of his talent when he cemented his place in the I-League winning side Mohun Bagan's midfield despite being a teenager. If he can replicate his last year's form then it shouldn't be a problem for this athletic midfielder to get Antonio Habas' attention considering the fact that Pranoy Halder and Jayesh Rane are the defending champions' most notable names in the middle of the park.
5. Makan Chothe (Forward, FC Goa)
FC Goa have been very shrewd with their transfers; they have roped some real good Indian talents. Manipuri footballer Makan Chote is one such name. The pacey winger is already considered as one of the most exciting prospects and if he can continue his showing from last year, where he scored twice in 25 outings for Punjab FC, he will be a hit for the Gaurs.
6. Moirangthem Thoiba Singh (Midfielder, Odisha FC)
The Manipur-born footballer has played for India at the age-group competitions and was with I-League team Minerva Punjab FC for last two seasons. He also became the youngest player to score a goal in the AFC Cup last year while playing for the Punjab side. Thoiba is considered among the top upcoming midfielders in India and is definitely a future star in the making. The 17-year-old central midfielder signed a three-year deal with the Bhubaneswar-based club.
7. Abhijit Sarkar (Midfielder, Chennaiyin FC)
Another member of the Indian U-17 team which took part in the World Cup showcased his ability last season when he netted 5 goals in 26 games for East Bengal in the I-League, whom he had joined on loan. He should give enough competition for a place in the middle of the park.
8. Nongdamba Naorem (Forward, Kerala Blasters FC)
He is pacy, he is a good dribbler and he can score goals. Nongdamba Naorem on most days is a complete package. The Minerva product was a part of Mohun Bagan's I-league winning team last year and is reunited with Kibu Vicuna which could help bring out his best at the highest level.
9. Prabhsukhan Singh Gill (Goalkeeper, Kerala Blasters FC)
This talented young custodian is not new to the ISL fold. Last season played some important matches for Bengaluru FC and was pretty impressive. The 19-year-old who spent the last two seasons on loan at the Indian Arrows earned praise for his outings there as well. So, don't get surprised if you see him under the sticks this season for KBFC.
10. Ninthoinganba Meetei (Forward, NorthEast United FC)
Yet another player from India's only World Cup squad, Meetei has been really impressive for the India U-18 team, especially at the SAFF U-18 Cup where he was named the MVP. He made his ISL debut last season and this season he would hope to build on that under Gerard Nus, who has had a nack of handing opportunities to youngsters.