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ISL: Top 5 U-20 players to watch out for in the Hero Indian Super League 2021-22 season

The ISL has been a platform for young players to grow and take the international stage, here are the top five U-20 players you should keep an eye on this season.

ISL: Top 5 U-20 players to watch out for in the Hero Indian Super League 2021-22 season


Updated: 31 Oct 2021 7:37 AM GMT

The Indian Super League has developed many great youngsters over the years. The league has been a playground for many young professionals to showcase their talents and help them to reach their full potential. Here are five youngsters who are expected to be something special in the 8th edition of the Hero Indian Super League.

Muhammed Nemil (FC Goa)

Muhammed Nemil Valiyattil is a 19-year-old midfielder who currently plays for FC Goa. He is a skillful hot prospect who grew up through the Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC). In his first three years at RFYC, Nemil registered 45 goals and 31 assists across various youth-level competitions. In 2019, he joined Marcet high-performance academy in Spain. During his stint at Marcet, Nemil was invited for trials at a Barcelona-based club, FE Grana. He cleared the one-week trial and was signed by the club. In 2020, FC Goa signed the player from RFYC on a four-year-long deal and was sent back to FE Grana on a season-long loan. After his excellent performance with FE Grana, he was sent back to FC Goa as his loan period expired. He made his debut for FC Goa in the Durand Cup against Sudeva Delhi FC and scored a spectacular goal on his debut. Nemil showcased brilliant performances during the Durand Cup and became a fan favorite within no time. His fellow teammate Alberto Noguera said that Nemil can speak Spanish which makes communication easy between them. This is a big positive for the 19-year-old as 5 out of 6 foreign players of FC Goa are Spaniards. Nemil's dribbling skills and weak foot ability are what make him unique. He will be a strong contender for the emerging player award this year if he becomes a starter in Juan Fernando's side.

Akash Mishra (Hyderabad FC)

The 19-year-old left-back plays at Hyderabad FC. Akash started his career at the U Dream Football Academy in Germany and played there for three years. He was called up for the Indian Arrows when he returned to India in 2018. In 2020, Akash Mishra was signed by Hyderabad FC on a three-season long deal. He made his Hero ISL debut in Hyderabad's opening match against Odisha last season. Soon after that, he became a regular starter for HFC and started in all 20 matches. His strong presence at the wings and his ability to provide support for the left flank make him versatile from other left-backs in the league. He has an average passing accuracy of 76% and is caught out of position very rarely. As the result of his admirable performance, he was called up for the Indian U-23 squad for the AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers and is in strong contention to be a starter for the senior National team soon.

Vikram Pratap Singh (Mumbai City FC)

The Mumbai City FC forward, Vikram Pratap Singh started his youth career at Chandigarh Football Academy and was signed by the Indian Arrows in 2018. In 2020, Mumbai City FC announced the signing of Vikram Pratap Singh on a three-year contract with an option to extend it. Under Sergio Lobera, Vikram played 10 matches coming off the bench. Things might change for Vikram Pratap under the new coach Des Buckingham as he has been performing notably with the Indian U-23 squad. Even though his natural position is as a right-winger, he can be effective and impactful in playing multiple forward positions. Vikram Pratap has a lot of potentials to become a strong force in the forward line for both his club and the national team.

Rohit Danu (Hyderabad FC)

After a reviving last season, Hyderabad FC have made a name as a club that is nurturing young talent. The 19-year-old striker Rohit Danu is one of them. In 2019, he was signed by the Indian Arrows when he was just 16, and later in 2020, he was signed by Hyderabad FC on a three-year deal. In 2017, Danu was selected for the U-17 World Cup squad when he was just 15 but due to an ankle injury, he was dropped out of the squad. His dribbling skills and the maturity he shows at such a young age are something that makes him unique at this age. He is also a member of the current Indian U-23 squad and made his debut against UAE. Last season, he played 5 matches for HFC as a substitute. This season he is expected to be regular and has more impact on the pitch.

Haobam Tomba Singh (SC East Bengal)

Haobam Tomba Singh is an 18-year-old midfielder who currently plays for SC East Bengal. He was signed by SC East Bengal from Classic Football Academy in 2020. At the age of 17, he made his debut for SC East Bengal in a 1-1 draw against Kerala Blasters FC. The Liverpool legend, Robbie Fowler picked Tomba Singh 4 times in his starting lineup last season. The inception of the new rule that only four foreigners can be on the field at a time will certainly give Tomba Singh more chances to prove himself this season. He is someone with the potential to be special if used properly. He has the ability to control the midfield and to provide support for the forwards. Tomba Singh can be the next big thing from East Bengal this season under Manolo Díaz who has experience in nurturing and molding young talents very well.

Let us know in the comments below who are the other players below the age of 20 that Indian football fans should have an eye on?

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