New foreign recruits who can have a big impact in Hero ISL 2019-20
With the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) set to return for its sixth edition in 2019-20, the clubs have been busy at work over the last few months in order to bring in the best talents possible.
While there'll be a lot of familiar faces who'll be returning this season, there'll also be a host of new foreign recruits joining the fray in a bid to make their mark. With the closure of the summer transfer window on August 31, we take a look at some of the new foreign players who can have a big impact in 2019-20.
Roy Krishna (ATK)
Two-time champions ATK found going difficult last season, largely owing to their inability to score goals. To address that, the recently-concluded transfer window saw a flurry of high-profile attacking additions, spearheaded by Fiji international Roy Krishna. The ace striker joins ATK on the back of a trail-blazing campaign in Australia's A-League, scoring a whopping 18 goals for Wellington Phoenix and winning the Golden Boot and the prestigious Johnny Warren Medal (A-League's version of the ‘Best Player of the Year’ award) for his exploits. In Krishna, ATK fans can expect much from a striker with international pedigree and at the top of his game.
Nerijus Valskis (Chennaiyin FC)
The Lithuanian international, who can operate with equal ease both as a striker and an attacking midfielder, will be one to watch out for from the Chennaiyin outfit this season. The 31-year-old is a proven goal scorer and has previously won the ‘Player of the Year’ and top scorer's honours in Lithuania's top division - the A Lyga - in 2012-13. He scored 27 league goals for his team Suduva that term. Besides his home country, Nerijus has also plied his trade in countries like Belarus, Romania, Poland, Latvia, Thailand and Israel. The experience will help him settle in India fast and hit the ground running.
Manuel Onwu (Bengaluru FC)
With Miku's departure, the Blues not just lost a lethal goal scorer but also a player who excels at linking up plays at the top end of the pitch. Replacing the Venezuelan hitman will be no mean feat and a lot of expectations will be riding on 31-year-old Spanish forward Manuel Onwu, who has been brought in to fill the void. The former Osasuna man scored 11 times in the Spanish third division playing for UCAM Murcia last season and has the experience of leading top clubs in premier competitions. Settling into a new league in a new country may become a challenge but with Bengaluru's existing Spanish contingent in Juanan, Albert Serran, Dimas Delgado and most importantly head coach Carles Cuadrat at hand to help their fellow countryman adapt, it may be just a matter of time before the Blues fans can witness the best of their latest Spanish attacker.
Mouhamadou Moustapha Gning (Kerala Blasters FC)
Last season at NorthEast United FC, midfielder Jose Leudo was among the most utilized and trusted players for Eelco Schattorie. The Dutchman excelled at utilising Leudo’s strength and mobility to the fullest, which helped free up his forward players to run riot in the opposition half. After leading the Highlanders to their best-ever finish in the league in 2018-19, Schattorie will be hoping to use the same blueprint to help his new team Kerala Blasters to glory. Kerala's new Senegalese defensive midfielder Mouhamadou Moustapha Gning, like Leudo last season, is expected to play a major role in Schattorie's scheme of things. Gning has years of experience playing with the best in Spain, operating primarily from the base of the midfield and screening the backline from opposition forays. Sahal Abdul Samad, in particular, will greatly benefit from having the Gning operating alongside him in midfield, allowing him to venture forward with confidence more often.
Francisco 'Piti' Medina Luna (Jamshedpur FC)
The former Real Zaragoza player joins Jamshedpur after playing more than a decade and a half at the highest levels. Though 38, the Spaniard's stellar reputation is something all opposition teams will need to be wary of in the upcoming campaign. A set-piece specialist, ‘Piti’ can play anywhere across the attack and has scored 29 goals and provided 14 assists in 149 La Liga appearances. During his distinguished career, the Spaniard’s adventures have also taken him overseas, which will prove indispensable when adjusting to the demands of the league in a new country.
Amine Chermiti (Mumbai City FC)
In one of the most eye-catching moves of the summer, Tunisian striker Amine Chermiti arrived at the Mumbai shores to add further muscle to a formidable frontline. The 31-year-old is a former CAF Champions League winner and usually needs just a sniff of a chance to hit the back of the net. He has been around the football world and played for clubs from both Europe and Asia. While at FC Zurich, Chermiti featured quite regularly in the Europa League, demonstrating just how lethal a player the Islanders have on their hands.
Maximiliano Barreiro (NorthEast United FC)
Bartholomew Ogbeche’s move to Kerala Blasters created a void that needed urgent filling by the Highlanders. The 34-year-old Maximiliano Barreiro was thus signed in the final weeks of August but the Argentine will have his work cut out for him if he is to match the exploits of Ogbeche from last season. That said, having played at some top clubs across South America, the Argentine has the experience of playing and delivering to the expectations of some of the most passionate fan bases in the world - something which will undoubtedly help him at NorthEast. Barreiro last played for Ecuadorian outfit S.D. Aucas, where he contributed five goals and three assists in 17 matches.
Diawandou Diagne (Delhi Dynamos FC)
Josep Gombau and Co. didn’t have the best of times in the first part of last season but finished their season strongly. The surge, however, was a tad too late as they finished out of the top four. In order to not repeat the sluggish start from last season, the team has invested wisely in the market, with former Barcelona B man Diagne representing one of their most exciting new incoming. The 24-year-old Senegalese operates from the middle of the park, shielding the backline and has the ability to distribute quick precise passes to kickstart counter attacks. Gombau’s philosophy is largely based on fast passing-oriented breakaway moves after winning the ball back quickly - something Diagne specializes in.
Note: Teams will still be able to sign free agents post the 31st August transfer window deadline.
Which of your team’s new foreign recruits are you most excited to watch in action?
Leave your pick in the comments below.