When the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, Luis Garcia, David Trezeguet, Joan Capdevila, Robert Pires, Elano, Fredrik Ljungberg and David James decide to ply their trade in a new league, it is bound to generate huge interest world-wide; and that was exactly the case when the above mentioned players were signed by the eight franchises of the inaugural Indian Super League (ISL). While some of the marquee signings have already impressed in the ISL, some are yet to make their mark.
Luis Garcia – Atletico de Kolkata
The Spaniard was in good form for the Kolkata outfit before picking up a hamstring injury during his side’s third game of the campaign. The former Liverpool player has thus far provided a couple of assists, including a sensational lob pass, which Fikru Teferra converted during Atletico de Kolkata’s 2-0 win over NorthEast United earlier in the month. Garcia was the lynchpin of the Red and White’s attack in the fixtures he featured, and his through passes caused rival defences plenty of problems. Although Kolkata managed to keep their unbeaten run intact in Garcia’s absence, Antonio Habas’ side clearly lacked the cutting edge in their last two games.
Alessandro Del Piero – Delhi Dynamos
The Juventus legend is yet to find the back of the net in the ISL, but has been a prominent figure in Delhi Dynamos’ attacks. Del Piero’s ability to draw defenders towards him enables fellow attacking players to find space going forward. The 2006 World Cup winner is getting sharper with each passing game, and it is just a matter of time before he starts banging in goals for his franchise, something which he has done throughout his career. However, the Italian maestro has Indian football fans wanting for more after showing them glimpses of his genius.
Robert Pires – FC Goa
Pires has thus far endured a very frustrating ISL campaign, both on and off the field. The Frenchman, who was a member of Arsenal’s “invincible” team, has looked very sluggish. The 40-year-old has also failed to provide the accurate through passes, which he used to produce with élan during his stint with various European clubs. Moreover, Pires got involved in a tunnel brawl with Atletico de Kolkata coach Habas, which resulted in him getting a two-match ban. But going by his present form, FC Goa will not miss the services of the midfielder.
Fredrik Ljungberg – Mumbai City FC
The ex-Sweden international’s ISL adventure has also been disappointing like his former Gunners team-mate Pires. The 37-year-old, who missed his side’s ISL opener against Atletico de Kolkata with a calf strain, made two substitute appearances before picking up another injury in training. The midfielder subsequently missed Mumbai’s 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Chennaiyin FC on Tuesday and is a doubtful for the remainder of the tournament. However, with whatever little we have seen of him in the ISL, Ljungberg is a shadow of his former self.
David James – Kerala Blasters
The man, who holds the record of keeping the most number of clean sheets in the Premier League, has had a mixed start to his stint in India. The 44-year-old has already produced a few good saves in the ISL, but is yet to manage a shut-out in the tournament. Apart from being Kerala Blasters’ marquee signing, James is also the manager of the franchise. And with the former Liverpool and Manchester City custodian’s team struggling in the ISL, it remains to be seen how long he manages to keep up with his dual role.
Joan Capdevila – NorthEast United
The former World Cup and European Championship winner from Spain has managed to make his mark in the inaugural edition of the ISL after struggling to adapt to the testing conditions in India initially. The full-back has been pretty solid at the back and also effectively organises his side’s defence. Capdevila’s darting runs along the left flank may not be as frequent nowadays, but the 36-year-old is still a threat in set-piece situations. The defender’s leadership qualities are also coming in handy for NorthEast United as they presently find themselves in the top half of the table.
David Trezeguet – FC Pune City
The Frenchman opened his account in ISL with a poacher’s goal as he latched onto a misplaced back-pass to calmly slot the ball home in his side’s third game of the campaign, a 2-0 win over FC Goa on Sunday. Trezeguet came close to scoring on a few occasions during Pune’s first two games, but the strike against Goa is sure to boost his confidence for the rest of the tournament. The striker, who scored the golden goal in France’s 2000 European Championship final win against Italy, is a player to watch out for as the ISL gather pace.
Elano – Chennaiyin FC
Elano has definitely been one of the stand-out performers in the ISL with the Brazilian bagging five goals in just four appearances. The crafty midfielder’s five strikes has come in the form of two coolly slotted penalties and three accurate free-kicks. In addition, Elano has also provided vital assists, thus making him relevant during open-plays as well. However, the former Manchester City player’s dead-ball skills are undoubtedly his “x-factor”. Although the ISL season is relatively young, Elano has already stamped his authority in the tournament and has caught the eye of one and all.