There has been a surge in the quality of Indian Football ever since the Indian Super League has started. From being a 3 month tournament in the initial stages to becoming the premier competition in the country, the ISL has come a long way.
Today, every Indian footballer wants to play in the ISL. Other than being the top league of the country, the ISL also brings with it name, fame and money off the field to go on with good training facilities, proper pitches and quality foreigners on the pitch.
But everything that glitters is not gold. While the ISL is a boon to several top footballers across the country, it’s the youngsters who bear the brunt of it. Solid financial platform attracts them to sign for ISL clubs but what happens next is detrimental to their game. In the ISL, 5 slots are reserved for foreigners, thereby leaving only six slots available to them and those six slots are taken up by bigger and more established names in the Indian Football Circuit. So, the youngsters do not get much playing time which is detrimental to their progress as a player.
Well, the clubs surely can’t be blamed for this as it’s their job to win trophies. Why will any sane person ever play a Jobby Justin over a certain Roy Krishna or a Daniel Lalhlimpuia over an Aridane Santana? So, it’s not the clubs who can be blamed. The decision depends solely on the player – Whether he wants big bucks and no playing time at an ISL club or a little less salary but 20 matches in the I-league. The choice is always the player’s to make and it’s time now that they start making the right ones.
Let’s take a look at five youngsters who certainly have a lot of potential but are being unable to make a mark in the ISL and thus need to secure a loan move to the I-League in order to fulfill their potential and become better players.
Every Indian football fan was astonished by the performance of one guy in the FIFA Under 17 World Cup. Some pundits even referred to him as one of the best players in the tournament in his respective position. Yes we are talking about Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem here. Fast forward 3 years and he is warming the bench at ATK having played just a solitary game all season. So what exactly went wrong for Dheeraj?
Well. Nothing. Nothing except the fact that ATK coach Antonio Lopez Habas wanted a more experienced campaigner under his goal and thus opted for the 30 year old Arindam Bhattacharya. Dheeraj has possibly done no wrong in the last 3 years. He went for trial stints abroad and even impressed Scottish giants Motherwell FC so much that they offered him a 3 year contract. But the move fell through due to work permit issues. He came back to India and signed for the Kerala Blasters, playing 13 matches for them in his initial season in the ISL. Impressed by his performances, ATK signed him on a five-year deal.
And it is indeed alarming to see a guy who is good enough to bag a contract with Motherwall FC, impress the coaches at AFC Bournemouth, warming the benches at ATK, playing a total of 90 minutes all season.
Such lack of playing time is not only harming Dheeraj but it also means that India is possibly destroying one of its finest ever talents. Thus, it’s time now for Dheeraj to make sure that he gets adequate playing time in the next season. Considering that he has a 5 year contract with ATK, the best possible option for him would be to secure a move to an I-League club.