The January transfer window in this season’s Indian Super League (ISL) has featured a number of high-profile moves. This was expected though, as the teams identified areas where they needed to strengthen for the final stretch of what has been a ‘different’ season. The congested fixture list hasn’t helped much either and with some teams having a growing injury list, the January window could not have come at a better time. Here are our top five picks based on the impact that they can potentially have-
Bright Enobakhare (Free agent -> SC East Bengal)
The 22-year-old has been an absolute revelation since coming into the Red and Golds side in early January. Robbie Fowler had been bemoaning the lack of a quality creative player in the side and it’s safe to say that Bright has more than solved that issue since his arrival. He last played a handful of matches for AEK Athens in the first half of 2020, but you wouldn’t believe that considering the immediate impact he has had on the entire side. Having already bagged a couple of goals and an assist, it remains to be seen if the Nigerian can power his side to anywhere close to the top four positions in the remaining games.
Marcelinho (Odisha FC -> ATK Mohun Bagan)
The Brazilian has been one of the ISL’s most lauded attacking players for the past five seasons but the 2020-21 campaign has been underwhelming for him to say the least. He featured eight times for the Kalinga Warriors and was in and out of the squad due to injuries. However, the former Flamengo forward is still a proven goalscorer, something he proved once again on his debut for the Mariners. Roping him in might just be the masterstroke that propels ATK Antonio Habas’ side closer to the top spot because creativity in the final third was something that they genuinely lacked.
Jackichand Singh (Jamshedpur FC -> Mumbai City FC)
The diminutive winger has rejoined his former head coach Sergio Lobera at Mumbai City after a solid first half of the season with Jamshedpur FC. This will be the 28-year-old’s second stint with the Islanders after a short spell in 2016. Although Lobera’s side are comfortably nestled in the top spot for now, the matches against SC East Bengal and NorthEast United have shown rivals that they tend to find it difficult to play through deep blocks. Apart from Bipin Singh who isn’t the quickest, they do not have a consistent winger who can stretch defences and provide an avenue for counter attacks. This is where he can be of huge help in the final few games. It remains to be seen how Lobera uses him.
Lenny Rodrigues (FC Goa -> ATK Mohun Bagan)
Although Lenny is a veteran of the game at 33, his performances for FC Goa over the past two seasons suggest that there is still a lot of football left in him. His capture by ATK Mohun Bagan might turn out to be a solid piece of business simply because he provides an experienced Indian head in the middle of the park who can recycle possession effectively and with minimal mistakes. While Pronay Halder has been tried in that role, his passing range isn’t quite of the same level as that of the man from Goa. The calmness that he brings to proceedings might also allow those ahead of him to play their natural game.
Dheeraj Singh (ATK Mohun Bagan -> FC Goa)
The young shot-stopper switched allegiances after a rather difficult stay with the Kolkata giants. In the presence of Arindam Bhattacharja, he barely ever got a look in and it is understandable that he wanted to leave in search of more minutes. At just 20, that is exactly what he needs and FC Goa can offer him that. With Mohammed Nawaz set to leave and Naveen Kumar looked at more as a backup, the opportunity is there for Dheeraj to shine. With a couple of good saves against SC East Bengal in his first game, the youngster has already made a promising start.