The race for the Indian Super League (ISL) playoffs was filled with intensity and excitement, with teams giving their all until the very end. With Hyderabad FC being the exception, teams like NorthEast United FC, Punjab FC, East Bengal FC, Bengaluru FC, and Jamshedpur FC all vied for a spot in the top six during the final Matchweeks of the season.

In the closing Matchweek, only East Bengal FC and Chennaiyin FC remained in contention for the sixth and final playoff berth. Chennaiyin FC clinched their spot without playing a match, as East Bengal FC's defeat to Punjab FC in Matchweek 22 sealed their fate, concluding a thrilling battle among the seven competing teams for the last playoff position.

Despite falling short of the playoffs, individual players made significant contributions to their teams throughout the league stage, showcasing their talent and skills. It's important to acknowledge their efforts, as they played a crucial role in their teams' performances and added excitement to the league.

In light of this, we've selected the standout player from each team that didn't qualify for the playoffs.

Nestor Albiach (NorthEast United FC) 

Albiach emerged as a vital player for NorthEast United FC under head coach Juan Pedro Benali, showcasing impressive form in his debut ISL season. Despite being deployed in various positions, the Spaniard contributed significantly with five goals and three assists. His goal tally was jointly the highest for the team, alongside Tomi Juric and Parthib Gogoi. Beyond scoring, Albiach demonstrated his creativity in the final third, creating 24 chances throughout the season, the most among his teammates. Recognizing his impact, the club has extended his contract, highlighting his importance for the upcoming season.

Madih Talal (Punjab FC)

Since joining Punjab FC in the summer, Talal has emerged as a standout performer for the Shers. In their inaugural season, Punjab FC surpassed expectations by finishing above teams like East Bengal FC, Bengaluru FC, and Jamshedpur FC. 

Talal's dynamic presence illuminated the league with his creative flair and goal-scoring prowess, contributing six goals and an impressive 10 assists. His tally of 10 assists is the highest in the ISL thus far. Additionally, Talal has demonstrated his exceptional creative abilities by creating 54 chances, the most in the league stage. His significance to the team is evident as he registered attacking returns in five out of Punjab FC's six victories this season.

Cleiton Silva (East Bengal FC)

Silva's season with East Bengal FC didn't match his usual standards, recording eight goals in 21 games. In the previous season, he was a contender for the Golden Boot award, narrowly missing out despite tying in goals with winner Diego Mauricio from Odisha FC. 

Despite this, Silva's individual brilliance was pivotal in securing crucial results for East Bengal FC throughout the season. He ended the campaign with 11 goal contributions, surpassing all other players at the club and retaining his position as the club’s top scorer. 

Notably, Silva played a significant role in five of the team's six victories, either scoring or assisting in those matches and netting the winning goal in three of them. Despite not reaching his previous heights, Silva showed why remains an indispensable asset for East Bengal FC.

Javi Hernandez (Bengaluru FC)

Similar to Silva, Bengaluru FC midfielder Hernandez experienced a dip in form compared to last season. However, his significance to the Blues remained undeniable, especially under the guidance of head coach Gerard Zaragoza, who implemented an attacking, possession-based philosophy since taking charge in December in contrast to the pragmatic approach of predecessor Simon Grayson.

In the four victories secured under Zaragoza since December, Hernandez found the net in three of those matches, finishing the season the club's joint-top scorer alongside Sunil Chhetri with a modest tally of five goals. Hernandez's impact extended beyond scoring, as he played a pivotal role in orchestrating attacks for the Blues, creating more chances than any of his teammates and underlining his importance to the team's setup.

Jeremy Manzorro (Jamshedpur FC)

Since joining Jamshedpur FC in the summer, Manzorro initially faced challenges, often playing in a defensive midfield role under former head coach Scott Cooper during a period of struggle for the club. However, with the arrival of Khalid Jamil and a shift to a box-to-box role, the Frenchman's performances soared. 

Ending the season with five goals and an assist, Manzorro's goal tally was only surpassed by club top scorer Daniel Chima. Notably, he even displayed his quality in dead-ball situations, scoring impressive free-kick goals. Additionally, Manzorro emerged as a chief creator for Jamshedpur FC under Jamil, also creating the most chances among his teammates. 

Abdul Rabeeh (Hyderabad FC)

Hyderabad FC's season may have seen only one victory, but it was a historic one, marking the first time an ISL team secured a win with an all-Indian playing eleven. Rabeeh emerged as a crucial contributor to this triumph, demonstrating versatility in both offensive and defensive roles in that game and throughout the season. 

Despite not finding the net himself, the young winger played a vital role on the flank, consistently providing valuable service to his teammates and diligently fulfilling defensive responsibilities. Despite the team's struggles, Hyderabad FC displayed resilience, with Rabeeh playing a significant role in creating chances in every match. Finishing the season with the most chances created for Hyderabad FC, Rabeeh showcased his creativity and importance in the final third.

Notable mentions: Mohammed Ali Bemmamer, Joao Victor, Naorem Mahesh, Nandhakumar Sekar, Souvik Chakrabarti, Parthib Gogoi, Luka Majcen, Jordan Gil, Sunil Chhetri, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Rei Tachikawa, TP Rehenesh.