The discussion of marquee players in the Indian Super League often leave fans with polarised opinions, unsurprisingly. The Indian Super League has seen its fair of marquee players, with former Liverpool, Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus players also plying their trade in India. In a country where football didn’t reach the masses(except certain states), the marquee players had a significant role in capturing the attention of those who didn’t bat an eyelid to Indian Football.
Marquee players bring along with them a reputation and attention which was required by the nascent franchises in the ISL. They helped in creating a distinct identity of the team and made headlines, which resulted in the franchise and the league both becoming household names. The first few years of ISL saw huge attendances and viewership, and the big names had a big role in that.
However, as the sport and the league developed in India, there came a point where quality of football didn’t match the CVs of the marquee players. Footballers came to India during the waning stages of their career and were often injured. Some of them were far off from their prime and couldn’t do justice to their brand and their pricetag. While some marquee signings were quite successful in the league, few of them failed to justify themselves and flopped in the ISL. We take a look at five such players in no particular order.
#1 Nicolas Anelka
Nicolas Anelka came to the Indian Super League with a great career behind him. He had played for some of the biggest clubs in the world such as PSG, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. At the age of 34, he was playing for West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League and made the move to ISL the following season.
Nicolas Anelka was roped in by Mumbai City FC, and made his debut for them against Chennaiyin FC after serving a three match global ban. Mumbai suffered a heavy defeat that match and the rest of the season ran on similar lines. Anelka featured in seven matches that season and scored just two goals. Mumbai finished second-last in the table due to such poor performances. Next season Anelka was appointed as the player-coach but the story was no different. Mumbai failed to qualify for the playoffs once again as Anelka couldn’t score even once in six matches. Considering his stature, much was expected from Anelka but he failed to light up the Indian Super League.