17-year-old Bikash Yumnam, who plays as a centre-back for developmental side Indian Arrows in the I-League, has been named amongst the top 60 in The Guardian’s NextGen 2020 list published today. In doing so, he becomes the first Indian player to be featured in this list. The Virgil Van Dijk fan who hails from Manipur has been described as someone who is ‘composed on the ball, a great reader of the game, and capable of excellent, fast, long throw-ins’ as well as one of the youngsters who has ‘already been earmarked for a quick progression to the full international side’ by columnist John Duerden.
Screenshot from The Guardian's list
Bikash has already represented India at the 2018 AFC U-16 Championships in Malaysia, helping the side not concede a goal in the group stages before the team bowed out in the quarterfinals. He was also an integral part of the title winning Indian side at the 2017 SAFF U-15 Championships and the four-nation tournament in Serbia in 2018, which the Indian team also won by beating Tajikistan 4-2 in the final. Thereafter, he went on loan to Indian Arrows from Punjab FC’s youth side and impressed there as well, making 9 appearances for the developmental side before the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted proceedings.
Apart from his defensive prowess, the talented youngster is also known for his ability from dead-ball situations. Having already represented India at youth levels, featuring in the NextGen list is sure to come as a huge boost for his confidence ahead of the new I-League season which is set to start in December.