I-League has been a great platform for players to showcase their boundless potential. Over the years, the tournament has been entertaining with several quality players plying their trade here to make the league more competitive and exciting.
With the new I-League season right around the corner, The Bridge has compiled a list of five players to watch out for in the 2021-22 season. The following list includes a few players with remarkable potential and a few others who will make their debut in I-League.
5. Juan Mera
Juan Mera was a popular face among East Bengal fans in his debut season in Indian football. He was one of the best performers for the Red and Gold Brigade in the 2019-20 season. After his short stint with the Kolkata giant, he joined Club Deportivo Lealtad de Villaviciosa before now heading back to India again. He has also played for teams like Leioa, Teruel, Racing Ferrol, Celta de Vigo II, Sporting Gijón.
4. Sekou Sylla
Club: Churchill Brothers
The 29-year-old Guinean forward, Sekou Sylla will be seen plying his trade for the two-time I-League champions and the runner up of last season Churchill Brothers FC in the upcoming season. The player was on the radar of Churchill for the last two years but somehow couldn't complete his signing last season.
Sylla, who is known for his ball control, dribbling, and speed, was the second-highest goalscorer with Yangon United in Myanmar National League back in 2018. He has played a total of 58 matches for Yangon United and has found the back of the net 39 times.
He must be getting ready to mark his impact on the pitch and it will be exciting to see him play in Indian football.
3. Nikola Stojanovic
Position: Central Midfield
Club: Mohammedan SC
Mohammedan SC roped in Nikola Stojanovic from OFK Petrovac. The central midfielder can also operate from an attacking position and has already helped his outfit clinch the Calcutta Football League (CFL) earlier this season. He was also part of the Durand Cup campaign.
Nikola can be said as the engine of the Kolkata-based outfit. He is a very hardworking player who possesses immense passing ability. The player likes to play layoffs and that gives an extra attacking option to the midfield zone.
Nikola has proved all of these attributes at times so far and now it's time for him to take the next step and showcase his potential in the I-League.
2. Kurtis Guthrie
Club: RoungGlass Punjab FC
I-League outfit RoundGlass Punjab FC have roped in English striker Kurtis Guthrie ahead of the 2021-22 season. The forward began his footballing career with St. Clement SC and has spent his entire career in England.
Guthrie has played in the National League and League Two for Accrington Stanley, Forest Green Rovers, Stevenage, Port Vale, and Colchester United. The 28-year-old player has contributed 84 times (56 goals and 28 assists) in 284 appearances in English football.
With the experience of highly competitive football, he will surely play a key role for Ashley Westwood's side in the upcoming tournament.
1. Marcelinho Leite Pereira
Position: Second Striker
Club: Rajasthan United FC
I-League outfit Rajasthan United FC, who will make their I-League debut in the 2021-22 season has strengthened their attacking force with the inclusion of Brazilian star Marcelino Leite Pereira. He has played for several ISL outfits over the last few years and will now mark his presence in the I-League.
Marcelinho began his career in Indian Football in 2016 with Delhi Dynamos before enjoying spells at Delhi Dynamos, FC Pune City, Hyderabad FC, Odisha FC, and ATK Mohun Bagan. The 34-year-old has made 79 appearances in the Indian Super League (ISL) and contributed 51 times (33 goals and 18 assists). The forward also bagged the Golden Boot award in his debut season in the ISL.
He will be a threat to opponents and it goes without saying that he is one of the biggest attractions of the 15th edition of the I-League.