Updated: May 13, 2018
As we get closer to the 31 May – the day most Indian football contracts expire – we will get more clarity on what skills each squad will possess and what skills they will need, but in the meantime, all we can do is wait.
To pass away the time, I’ve compiled a list of some fantastic international players who could make themselves important parts of Indian teams. There are a couple of names here that are out of budget for the average Indian team, but I included them anyway because they have some incredibly obvious flaws that will make smaller European teams hesitant to touch them.
The market value and stats for these players is taken from Transfermarkt. The market values are last known estimates and there are many cases of players moving for both less and more than their market value. Another rule I set is no keepers or fullbacks because there are plenty of good Indians for those roles.
The 29-year-old Australian was released by Chinese second division club Zheijang Greentown, the same club that Edu Garcia transferred to, at the start of the year. Spiranovic has plenty of experience, having progressed through the youth teams and finally representing the Socceroos - 35 times as of August 2017. In total he has played 196 games, scored 7 goals, created 7 assists and played 90% of his total available minutes.
The 6’2” defender has won the DFB Pokal with FC Nurnberg, the J-League with Urawa Reds and the A-League and AFC Champions League with Western Sydney Wanderers. Last valued at $700k by Transfermarkt, the experienced defender could make the difference for almost any ISL side, even if he is on the more expensive side.
Another 29-year-old central defender released by a Chinese second division side, this time Meizho Meixian, Brazilian Victor Ramos is another interesting option. From playing in the Champions League and winning the Belgian Cup for Standard Liege, to playing for Chapecoense post the accident the defender seems to have done everything. The 6 foot four footballer is currently out of contract and expected to be available at maximum valuation of a million dollars.
Victor Ramos has stayed injury free for most of his career as well has holding the manager’s faith playing close to 94% of the minutes available to him in his career of 205 games.
The experienced French-Cameroon International, is a familiar name for followers of the English Premier League and English Football. The central defender spent 18 disappointing months at Tottenham after a spell at Newcastle where he was excelled, but the club ended up relegated. However, he managed to find his form for Norwich and made over 105 for the English Kerala Blasters.
The 31-year-old has made 15 appearances for the Cameroon national team and was a member of the squad for the 2010 World Cup. In total the defender has made 349 appearances but has been without a club for nearly a year.
Rafael Marquez Pinto
No, not THAT, Rafa Marquez. This is Rafael Marquez Pinto, a 34-year-old Brazilian that has been out of contract since the start of the year. He has made 236 appearances in the Brazilian league via a short spell in Serie A with Hellas Verona. The defender has also won the Copa Libertadores, the most difficult competition in the world, in 2013 with Athletico Miniero. He was last valued at $600k but again seems an excellent budget option for Indian sides.
The 33-year-old Italian has plenty of experience at the top level having played in Serie A, the Premier League, MLS and even the Olympics. One thing you can say without a doubt is that there are not many players like Nocerino in India. Many articles on this site will mention the lack of mobility or unpredictability in the middle of the park and Nocerino can provide just that. Even at the age of 33, it will not be a surprise to see him charging around the pitch, but on occasion he is also known to have shown a craftier side to his game, when deployed in an attacking midfield role.
The sub $500k valued midfielder is a no brainer for an ISL side really, and might even be in the budgets of many of the bigger I-League teams. I have no doubt that he would be available for half that price at least, having left the Orlando City in the MLS at the end of last year.
The big Cameroonian defensive midfielder was cut from Chinese Super League side Hebei Fortune’s squad. The midfielder was valued at $4.5 million while in China but I am sure he is aware that he will have to take a pay cut to play elsewhere. Regardless, his experience and ability is not in question – his trophy cabinet contains almost everything you can win in France and 2 back to back Europa Leagues with Sevilla.
Having represented Cameroon 67 times and making over 390 appearances in total, the Mbia could play a similar role to Achille Emana in the Indian Super League.
Yeah, I know this one might be a little too ambitious a signing but Nasri received a 6 month doping ban in January so nobody else is going to touch him. He’s currently 30 years old and was valued at $6 million before the ban. He will own this league if he ever gets a go here.
SIGN HIM UP. PLEASE.
Harry Redknapp’s favourite signing left Rangers in the Scottish Premier League on March 23rd. The legs have gone, but the creative midfielder was never one to rely on his physical attributes. Kranjcar could be useful in a role similar to the one Manuel Lanzarote plays for FC Goa - the 33 year old Croat is equally adept as a number 10 as he is coming inside from the left side.
His eye for a pass sees him currently valued at $500k, a number that could be within many Indian Super League team budgets.
Marvin Emnes, valued at $500k, is a winger most widely known for playing for Swansea & 'Boro in the Premier League. Emnes is direct and quick and loves taking on defenders. Emnes has played a few more games than Kranjcar, 305 vs 300, and has registered 14 goals and an assist more. The winger has registered 55 goals and 37 assists in total and clocks in at 467 minutes per goal, better than many wide players in the ISL.
Emnes is also just 29 years old and could be well within his peak as a footballer. Goals from wide areas are a rarity in India and Emnes could add a different dimension to many attacks.
Another name familiar to the average English football fan, the robust Miller is a target man that has mainly played in the Championship and below. The 6 foot 3 centre forward started his career at a pre-money Manchester City and has since appeared for Wolves, West Brom, Notthingham, Huddersfield, Blackpool and Bury.
The big striker has scored at a rate of a goal every 291 minutes in his last 186 games but given the success of players like Dudu, Dicka and Kalu Uche, you can expect him to better that ratio. Another within budget of Indian teams as he was valued at $500K when he left Bury last summer.
The Brazilian, Wanderley, is probably the best goalscorer in the data that I have. At 29 years old, he still has a few good years to give, but has been scoring at a rate of a goal every two games in the UAE.
There are potential concerns with the player involved in a passport controversy which resulted in his club being disqualified from the AFC Champions League. He was last valued at $2 million but you can expect that number to have gone down following the scandal.
Other notable mentions – Alberto Acquilani, Jackson Martinez, Mirko Vucinic, Diego Capel, Nilmar, Yossi Benayoun, Ryan Babel
As always, I'm available on Twitter, @sgtsaltnpeppa