Indian Super League finally kick started in 2014 after years of speculations, brouhaha, pessimism and positivity amidst stars and glitz. 8 franchisees were sold- Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, North East, Kerala, Chennai and Goa who set themselves to kick off a football revolution along with promoters IMG-Reliance and their entity managing the ISL- the Football Sports Development Limited.
Marquee Signings in the 2014 & 2015 seasons of ISL
The league began, hitting the right note with teams managing to scalp stars from around the World, albeit a little old which prompted people to take note. While Delhi Dynamos set the benchmark with the signing of Italian legend Del Piero, FC Pune City and Chennaiyin FC weren’t far behind with the acquisitions of David Trezeguet and Elano and Materazzi respectively. Mumbai City FC and FC Goa too pleased the Indian Gunners getting Ljunberg, Anelka and Robert Pires respectively to the sub-continent while Kerala Blasters signed David James and the Indian origin Michael Chopra. Atletico Kolkata signed former Liverpool star Luis Garcia who gave account of his quality in the league while NorthEast United FC roped in Spanish full back Joan Capdevilla.
Following a glamorous opening ceremony, 12th October, 2014 played witness to history as the first ball was kicked in the ISL where hosts Atletico de Kolkata taught Mumbai City FC a football lesson, handing them a 3-0 defeat. What followed was an exciting couple of months with fans thronging stadium to catch a glimpse of their stars. But what was bad news for them, a few of them got injured in the run and a few were not preferred starters for their teams. Despite the star factor, quality seemed a bit lacking with the marquees not getting any younger.
The second season was then upon us and the teams had learnt their lessons. Delhi Dynamos again took Centre stage with 3 marquee signings in Roberto Carlos, Florent Malouda and John Arne Riise. FC Pune City too got Adrian Mutu and Tuncay Sanli to lead lines for them. While Mumbai City FC and Chennaiyin continued with the same marquees, Atletico de Kolkata surprised everyone with the signing of Portuguese striker Helder Postiga while Kerala Blasters got in Carlos Marchena. NorthEast too went for a change and got another Portuguese star in Simao. FC Goa put together a strong Brazilian contingent with marquee player Lucio leading the pack.
With younger, fitter marquees in the league, the level shot up and the fans were able to witness some high quality football. The Indians had also made most of their exposure tours and learning from the foreign counterparts and improved quite a bit.
Marquee signings in ISL 2016
With an aim of constant improvement year on year, the teams still didn’t seem too content with their marquees as a few went injured again. So come season 3, teams have been smarter and shrewd and have drafted players of better quality and fitness.
Delhi Dynamos continue this ISL season with their star player from last season Florent Malouda in addition to former Real Madrid centre back, Ruben Gonzalez Rocha. Malouda has already showcased what he is capable of and Rocha seems a brilliant scalp that shall provide mettle and composure to the Dynamos back line following Riise’s departure. Atletico Kolkata have brought back Helder Postiga to build on his tally of 2 goals he scored in the 60 odd minutes he managed last season. Mumbai City FC in wake of making amends to their fortunes have gone on to get one of the biggest names this time around in Uruguayan star Diego Forlan who tormented opposition in the Red of Manchester United and Atletico Madrid and the blue of Uruguay.
NorthEast United have drafted in FC Pune City man Didier Zokora as their marquee player, probably the least famous names but adds a lot of steel for the Highlanders in the middle of the park. FC Goa have retained Lucio who was tremendous last season while Chennaiyin has got one of the defenders from last season John Arne Riise from Delhi Dynamos. Kerala Blasters have roped in Aaron Hughes as their marquee. Hughes recently plied trade in the Euro 2016 alongside FC Pune City marquee Gudjohnsen. But in latest reports, the Iceland forward has injured himself and is out.
While we wait to hear on the replacement, we can be sure of one thing; Witnessing some real quality on the field all throughout the season of ISL 2016 as we have our favourite teams fighting it out for the most coveted trophy in the end.
Who will emerge victorious? The question will be answered on December 18th.
If you are an ISL fanatic, you need to check this one out: Indian Super League Fan? Not really, If you had no idea about these facts !
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