Since its inception in 2014, the Indian Super League (ISL) has witnessed a few marquee stars of the game, including Roberto Carlos, Nicolas Anelka, Elano Blumer, and Del Piero. These superstars have graced Indian football and created a window of opportunity for many others to follow. With the new season of the Hero ISL scheduled to commence in November, here is a list of 5 Marquee signings ISL clubs can target.
1. Mario Manzukic
Mario Manzukic, aka Super Mario, scored the iconic goal in the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid, which won him the goal of the season award during his time at Juventus. Still, his goal on the day couldn’t help The Old Lady lift the Champions League trophy. Despite losing a Champions League final with Juventus, Mario has indeed got his hands on the UEFA Champions League trophy and the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup during his stint with the German side Bayern Munich.
The Croatian started his professional football journey with NK Marsonia in his hometown city Slavonski Brod. From playing in a small city in Croatia to coming so close in the 2018 World Cup with Croatia, where they were beaten in the Final by France, he has been a true servant for his country. Apart from representing his country, he has also found success with a few top clubs like Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Bayern Munich, among a few others.
He is currently without a club after having a rather disappointing stint with Italian side AC Milan due to injuries and poor form. However, although the 35-year-old has his best playing days behind him now, he still possesses the qualities and instincts needed in a good striker. Not to forget, being 6ft 3, he still carries an aerial threat in the opposition box, and with his experience, he certainly is one free agent the Indian Super League (ISL) clubs must look to bring in.
2. Wilfried Bony
Wilfried Guemiand Bony was born in Bingerville, a south-eastern town in Ivory Coast, and has played alongside two of the English Premier League’s all-time greatest strikers, Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast) and Sergio Kun Aguero (at Manchester City). However, bony will always be remembered for his stint with Swansea City, when he made a big-money move in 2013 and was the most expensive signing for the Swans, costing the Welsh club 12 million pounds.
He scored 26 goals in 54 appearances for the Swans, which earned him a move to Manchester City in 2015 for 28 million pounds, which made him the most expensive African footballer at the time. Before the arrival of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, Bony was one of the hottest strikers in the Premier League, terrorizing opposition defences with his sheer strength and pace. However, for an African to shine in England, he had to prove himself elsewhere before showcasing his talent in English football.
He played for Czech club Sparta Prague and Dutch side SBV Vitesse, where he came of age, scoring 12 goals in the 2011-12 season, becoming the club top scorer, and becoming the league top scorer in the very next season, which earned him his big-money move to Swansea City. He has been a regular for his country and won the African Cup of Nations in 2015 with Ivory Coast. After being released by Saudi club Al-Ittihad, he is a free agent and linked with a big-money move to the Indian Super League (ISL). Still only 32, the Ivorian might be an interesting signing to look forward to if he decides to come to India.
3. Medhi Benatia
Medhi Amine El Mouttaqi Benatia was born in Courcouronnes, France, and played for France at the U-18 level, but then decided to play for his father’s country Morocco. He has represented Morocco sixty-six times at the senior level and captained the national team on a few occasions. Born in France, he started playing football for Marseille and played for a few other French clubs before moving to Italy.
In Italy, he initially signed for the Serie A club Udinese Calcio and made 80 appearances for the Bianconeri’s before moving to Roma for one season. After his stint at Roma, the Moroccan decided to go to Germany and joined the German giants Bayern Munich. During his time in Germany, he found a lot of success, winning the German Bundesliga twice in 2015 and 2016. In his third season with the Germans, he was loaned to Juventus, and following his loan spell, made a permanent move to the Italian side. He won the Serie A thrice, along with two Coppa Italia’s and one Supercoppa Italia.
In January 2019, the defender moved to Qatar and joined Al-Duhail SC but currently finds himself without a club. However, the 34-year-old defender named in the 2013-14 Serie A Team of the year still has a few years left in his tank. For someone who possesses excellent technical ability and can marshall the back-line well, his presence in defence will ensure safety and bring confidence to other defenders (especially young Indian defenders) if teams from the Indian Super League (ISL) decide to rope his services.