With the Indian football transfer window now open, various ISL clubs have begun making moves in preparation for the upcoming 2022-23 season. This means that teams must prepare for a much longer season. Clubs must ensure that they check all of the boxes and have deep squads to compete in multiple tournaments.
The clubs' executives witnessed the impact Indian players had on the field last season. The four-foreigner rule has had a significant impact on on-field dynamics, increasing demand for talented Indian players. Teams will also have to make tough decisions about their foreigners, with only six spots available. Here, we at The Bridge chose the five best foreign signings so far by the clubs:
Brendan Hamil (ATK Mohun Bagan)
The 29-year-old Melbourne Victory center-back will lead the Bagan defence in the absence of injured Spanish defender Tiri, who is expected to miss the entire season. Hamill was a key member of Melbourne Victory's A-League 2021-22 squad, appearing in 20 games across all competitions, including the club's Australia Cup victory.
Brendan Hamill began his career as a right-back, but he has since established himself as a centre-back. Hamill, who stands over six feet tall, is a defender who is very comfortable on the ball. During the 2021/22 A-League season, he had an 88 percent passing accuracy and a 46 percent long ball accuracy.
While Hamill has good defensive qualities, his long balls are effective at finding attackers. After Melbourne's versatile defender Roderick Miranda (3.9), he provided the most accurate long balls per game (2.4).
Because of his height, Hamill poses a constant threat in set-piece situations. With three goals, he was the league's second-highest goal-scoring defender. Two of those came from inside-the-box headers.
In ATK Mohun Bagan, Hamill will be in charge of building assaults from behind. His intelligence and vision will draw fullbacks and midfielders into the game. Like his predecessor Tiri, Hamill will be expected to push forward and cover space on occasions. Along with those qualities, the Australian's athleticism poise, and insight on the big phase will undoubtedly benefit the team.
Alvaro Vasquez (FC Goa)
The Barcelona-born forward began his Indian football career with Kerala Blasters FC. Vasquez, who played up front with Jorge Pereyra Diaz, wreaked havoc on opposing defences with his movement and ability to spot his teammates' runs. Vasquez's contributions to the Yellow Tuskers' runner-up finish are more than his eight goals in 23 appearances for the club.
Alvaro began his career with Espanyol's youth system and progressed to the senior team, appearing in 60 games and scoring 10 goals. He later moved on to Getafe, where he appeared in 86 games and scored 16 goals. After a brief stint with Swansea City in England, Alvaro returned to his childhood club.
He played 53 games for another Spanish club, Sporting Gijon, before being loaned out to CE Sabadell FC. Alvaro Vasquez has also played for the Spanish national football team's various age groups. He will work alongside FC Goa head coach Carlos Pena to steer the club in the right direction.
The Gaurs have struggled in front of goal due to a lack of a proper forward, and with Airam Cabrera unable to find his scoring boots last season, the problem was far from resolved. With Alvaro's scoring prowess, the Gaurs may finally find the solution to all their attacking woes.
Osama Malik (Odisha FC)
Odisha FC has completed their mandatory Asian quota by signing Osama Malik. He is a 31-year-old Australian defender who has spent the majority of his career in the A-League. Osama is a versatile player who can play central defender, fullback, or holding midfielder.
Osama is a versatile player who can assist the coach when other players are unavailable. His ability to consistently keep up with opposing strikers until the last second is a key feature of his game. Malik, unlike traditional defenders, enjoys moving up the field and contributing to the attack.
The Australian has a good enough pace to track back and cover the gaps he creates. As a result, he can do well against teams that rely heavily on counter-attacks. Furthermore, the 31-year-old is a progressive center-back with the ability to pass the ball laterally. While being a good partner for Carlos Delgado, Malik can also play in midfield.
Another reason Malik is a good Asian option is that he has played 44 games for current Odisha FC head coach Josep Gombau. With Carlos Delgado at the back, Malik is expected to play a key role in the defensive midfield.
Fallou Diagne (Chennaiyin FC)
Diagne's most recent club was KF Vllaznia in Albania, where he played under Chennaiyin's new manager Thomas Brdaric. In 2021/22, he won the Albanian Cup.
Diagne made his Metz debut as a 19-year-old in 2009, and he went on to make 99 appearances, including a loan spell in 2017-18. Between 2014 and 2016, he made 78 appearances in Ligue 1, including 37 for Stade Rennais FC.
Between 2011 and 2014, the Senegalese international made 65 appearances for SC Freiburg, including 57 Bundesliga matches and three Europa League appearances. So far in his career, the 6'1 center-back has scored 16 goals.
The Senegalese defender has three caps for the reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions, including one appearance in an AFCON qualifier against Namibia, where he was paired with Kalidou Koulibaly and Sadio Mane.
Javi Hernandez (Bengaluru FC)
A product of Real Madrid Castilla, the 33-year-old has played for ATK, ATK Mohun Bagan, and Odisha FC in the Indian Super League in recent years. Hernandez previously played for clubs in Spain, Sweden, Romania, Poland, and Azerbaijan before moving to India in 2019.
Javi Hernandez began his youth career with CDF Pizarrales before moving on to UD Salamanca in 2002 and, at the age of 16, the Real Madrid Youth Academy in 2005.
He made his senior debut in Segunda División B with Real Madrid Castilla, before moving on to Halmstad, Salamanca, CD Ourense, and Burgos CF. Javi, who played 19 of Odisha FC's 20 League games last season, scored six goals and assisted five times for the Juggernauts.
While Mumbai City announced the departure of six first-team players, it was clear that the team would be rebuilt. Despite finishing fifth in the league, the Islanders finished second in their AFC Champions League group, an unprecedented feat. This season, they are said to have signed proven foreigners from the ISL, such as Greg Stewart and Alberto Nougera, but the club has yet to announce their arrivals.
On the other hand, East Bengal and NorthEast United are yet to be on news regarding foreign transfers, although the Red and Gold Brigade are said to have roped in Ivan Gonzalez.