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ISL: Top 5 Foreign Strikers who will fight for Golden Boot

ISL: Top 5 Foreign Strikers who will fight for Golden Boot
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By

Sayan Chatterjee

Published: 28 Oct 2020 8:15 AM GMT

The 2020-21 season of the Indian Super League (ISL) will feature a number of new faces in the attacking department for almost all teams. As the start of the official football season inches closer, we take a look at the top five names that are expected to light up the tournament with their output in front of goal and should be up there in contention for the Golden Boot award, in no particular order.

#5 Nerijus Valskis (Jamshedpur FC)

Lithuanian forward Valskis joined Jamshedpur FC after a tremendous debut ISL campaign with Chennaiyin FC, in which he scored 15 goals and assisted 6 in 20 matches. He was the joint top-scorer alongside Kerala Blasters’ Bartholomew Ogbeche and ATK’s Roy Krishna but won the golden boot award for his assists count.

This season too, the star attacker will be looking to build on the momentum he generated last term as he reunites with head coach Owen Coyle who he played under at Chennai. The seasoned goal-scorer has previously played in Poland, Romania, Latvia, Israel and Belarus but had his most productive spell in his homeland with FK Suduva Marijampole.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyqHi5ZbZM0

The 33-year-old also has 20 caps for his country and has featured in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League with Suduva and Riteriai in Lithuania, Hapoel Tel Aviv in Israel and Liepajas Metalurgs in Latvia. Valskis has been criticised in some quarters for choosing to sign for Jamshedpur after having such a great season for Chennai, with the money on offer being mentioned as one of the factors.

However, the attacker has maintained that he is more interested in the project at the club rather than the financials and that the opportunity of working with Owen Coyle was too hard to resist. Another impressive campaign should put the naysayers to rest as he tries to take the Men of Steel into the top four in the league table for the first time.

#4 Bartholomew Ogbeche (Mumbai City FC)

Kerala-Blasters-Ogbeche-1 Bartholomew Ogbeche (Source: ISL)

Nigerian striker Ogbeche came to India in 2018 from Willem II in the Dutch Eredivisie and immediately underlined his class with 12 goals and 2 assists in 18 matches for NorthEast United in the 2018-19 campaign. Last season, he played for Kerala Blasters and was even more clinical, with 15 goals and an assist in just 16 matches.

The 36-year-old is a former Paris Saint-Germain youth trainee and has had spells in Europe with SC Bastia, FC Metz, Middlesbrough, Alaves and Valladolid, as well as a short stint in the UAE with Al-Jazeera.

The natural goal-scorer will turn out for Sergio Lobera’s Mumbai City FC this season and even at 36, is going to be a huge goal threat for opposition defences. A World Cupper for his country in 2002, Ogbeche has 6 appearances for Nigeria and has been a prolific scorer in almost all the leagues that he has played in.

His partnership with Adam Le Fondre upfront, with a midfield of Hugo Boumous, Hernan Santana and Ahmed Jahouh supplying balls to them should have the Mumbai City fans licking their lips as they look forward with optimism at their team’s chances this season.

#3 Gary Hooper (Kerala Blasters)

Ex- A-League star Gary Hooper (R) moved to ISL (Source: Getty Images)

Former Celtic, Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich City striker Gary Hooper joined Kerala Blasters in the close season as one of the most high-profile signings of the season. The 32-year-old joined the Tuskers after a promising season in the A-League with Wellington Phoenix for whom he scored 8 and assisted 5 last term, helping them to a third place finish.

The Tottenham Hotspur academy product played in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League for Celtic between 2010 and 2013 and also led the Scottish giants to a cup triumph and back-to-back league titles. 2012-13 was his best campaign when he scored 31 goals in 51 matches, guiding his team to a domestic double.

He then joined Norwich City in the Premier League and became their top scorer in his debut season before moving on to Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship and then to Australia. With the perfect mix of experience and ability, Hooper will be an important cog for head coach Kibu Vicuna and should be an able replacement for the departing Bartholomew Ogbeche.

#2 Roy Krishna (ATK Mohun Bagan)

Extending Roy Krishna’s contract with the newly merged ATK-Mohun Bagan was possibly the best piece of business that the club managed to pull off this summer apart from the purchase of Sandesh Jhingan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=858nfQd6Kqs

And if you followed the ISL last season, you’d know exactly why. The Fiji centre-forward took to the league like a duck to water when he arrived last year from A-League side Wellington Phoenix, scoring 15 goals and assisting 6 in 21 matches in his debut campaign for the erstwhile ATK.

His partnership upfront with former Phoenix teammate David Williams was one of the major factors for the Kolkata side winning the title, with the duo recording a combined 22 goals and 11 assists.

Krishna has always been prolific, be it in the A-League where he has more than 50 goals and close to 30 assists in just over 100 games, or in the New Zealand premiership, where his record is even more impressive with 42 goals and 29 assists in 66 matches. This season too, he will be expected to lead ATK Mohun Bagan’s title charge as well as help the team put up a decent showing in the AFC Cup.

#1 Adam Le Fondre (Mumbai City FC)

Adam Le Fondre Adam Le Fondre (Source: FoxSports Asia)

English striker Adam Le Fondre’s signing was officially confirmed by the Islanders a few days back. The 33-year-old, who arrives on a season-long loan deal from Sydney FC, has been a prolific scorer during his time in England and more recently, Australia.

In the 14 seasons that he spent in England with clubs like Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic, Cardiff City and Reading, he amassed 183 goals and 44 assists in 532 appearances. Le Fondre, or Alfie as he’s fondly known amongst teammates, had a hugely successful spell at Reading, for whom he topped the scoring charts between 2011 and 2014, helping them achieve promotion in his debut season for the club.

He then moved on to Cardiff City and after several loan spells, found himself in the A-League with Sydney FC in 2018. And he just exploded and how! Guiding the team to two Grand Final wins and one Premier, the forward became the club’s mainstay in attack.

He scored 45 times and assisted 4 in 67 appearances with 21 of them coming last season in just 28 matches. With a talented midfield comprising Hugo Boumous, Hernan Santana, Ahmed Jahouh and Rowlin Borges behind him, he will be expected to fire on all cylinders this season for Sergio Lobera’s men in ‘sky’ blue.

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