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ISL: Top 5 foreign midfielders to watch this season

ISL: Top 5 foreign midfielders to watch this season

Sayan Chatterjee

Published: 31 Oct 2020 8:44 AM GMT

With the defenders and strikers out of the way, we now take a look at the engine-room in the middle and list down our top five foreign midfield picks of the Indian Super League (ISL) who should prove to be a safe bet for their respective teams, again, in no particular order.

Vicente Gomez (Kerala Blasters)

Vincente Gomez (Source: ElDesmarque) Vincente Gomez (Source: ElDesmarque)

32-year-old defensive midfielder Vicente Gomez is being touted as one of the buys of the season since his move to Kerala Blasters from Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna. The tall and robust midfield destroyer has only ever played in Spain with the Blasters being just the fourth club in his career after AD Huracan, UD Las Palmas and Depor. His experience against some of the top teams in La Liga during his time with Las Palmas will surely be something that will hold him in good stead as he tries to rejuvenate the Blasters’ midfield under new head coach Kibu Vicuna. He has played at least 20 matches in each of the last ten seasons in Spain and was reportedly even close to a Spanish national team call-up in 2017 when Vicente Del Bosque was in charge of Spain. His pedigree at the top level means that he will be expected to perform consistently well by the fans in Kochin and elsewhere. However, this also means added pressure on someone who will be in completely alien conditions for the first time in his career. This one is definitely worth the wait.

Hugo Boumous (Mumbai City FC)

Hugo Boumous (Source: ISL) Hugo Boumous (Source: ISL)

Boumous was a joy to watch last season. The French attacking midfielder lit up the ISL with a string of magnificent displays for FC Goa that propelled the Gaurs to a top of the table finish in the group stages. The 25-year-old scored 11 goals and made 10 assists in just 15 matches and ended up winning the player of the tournament as well as the pass of the tournament award. He arrived in Goa in February 2018 from Moroccan club Moghreb Tetouan and in two and a half years under Sergio Lobera, the diminutive midfielder has an incredible 16 goals and 17 assists in 43 games, making him one of the most complete midfielders in the league. With his move to Mumbai City FC now confirmed, he is once again set to be reunited with his mentor Lobera as well as a number of known faces like Mourtada Fall, Ahmed Jahouh and Mandar Rao. With such a slew of star players alongside, and with two lethal strikers in Adam Le Fondre and Bartholomew Ogbeche ahead of him, Boumous will definitely be looking to take the next step and win the title with the Islanders in the upcoming season.

Javi Hernandez (ATK Mohun Bagan)

Javi Hernandez (Source: ISL) Javi Hernandez (Source: ISL)

Playing in the ISL last season for the erstwhile ATK, Javi Hernandez assisted 5 times over the course of the season and scored 2 goals, both of which came in the final against Chennaiyin FC. The 31-year-old has now extended his contract to stay on at ATK Mohun Bagan for one more year and will be looking to build on an impressive debut season. A Real Madrid academy graduate, the Spaniard has previously spent a considerable amount of time in Sweden, Romania, Poland and Azerbaijan apart from his 34 appearances for Madrid’s reserve team. Coach Antonio Lopez Habas will be looking at his midfield maestro to control the tempo in matches this season as well and with players like Roy Krishna, David Williams, Edu Garcia and Michael Soosairaj around him, one wouldn’t bet against him doubling his goals and assists tally from last season. Blessed with excellent technique, passing and ball-carrying ability, the Spaniard is incredibly easy on the eye and will play an important role in the club’s ISL and AFC Cup sojourn.

Rafael Crivellaro (Chennaiyin FC)

Rafael Crivellaro (Source: ISL) Rafael Crivellaro (Source: ISL)

Brazilian attacking midfielder Rafael Crivellaro was a pivotal figure in Chennaiyin FC’s promising performances last season. The 31-year-old Brazilian joined the Marina Machans ahead of the 2019-20 season and scored 7 goals and assisted 8 in 20 matches last term. The playmaker has since extended his contract with Chennaiyin, becoming the second Brazilian to do so after teammate Eli Sabia. His technique, passing and vision is up there with the very best in the league and head coach Csaba Laszlo will be looking for an encore performance from one of his main men this time around as well. The former Vitoria Guimaraes midfield schemer, who won the 2012-13 Portuguese FA Cup and played in the Europa League with the club, has quickly become a crowd favourite in Chennai due to his performances on the pitch. A lot of the team’s fortunes would depend on how he links up with Jakub Sylvestr, Anirudh Thapa, Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev and the likes in the attacking third. .

Ville Matti Steinmann (SC East Bengal)

Matti Steinmann (Source: Stuff.co.nz) Matti Steinmann (Source: Stuff.co.nz)

Matti Steinmann, the 25-year-old German midfielder who joined SC East Bengal recently, is a Hamburger SV academy graduate, and has played for them 12 times in the Bundesliga. He arrives at the Kolkata legacy club from A-League outfit Wellington Phoenix having played 24 matches for them in 2019-20. He was at Hamburg from 2009 to 2014 during which time he turned out regularly in the reserve and youth teams before making his Bundesliga debut in 2014. The tall and lanky holding midfielder has also played in the Danish top division with Vendsyssel Forenede Fodboldklubber scoring a goal in 8 matches for the club in 2018-19. He was also a member of the German U-20 side in the 2015 U-20 World Cup and moves to India as still a considerably young talent with his best years ahead of him.

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