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ISL 2020-21 | Mid-season report: Top 5 foreign investment fails

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Gary Hooper has scored just two goals in the season so far


ISL 2020-21 | Mid-season report: Top 5 foreign investment fails

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sounak mullick


In spite of several uncertainties in the build-up to the new season of the Indian Super League, the franchises have not shied away from spending big in the transfer market. While some of the investments paid, others haven’t, which brings us to our mid-season feature - Top 5 foreign investment fails.

Gary Hooper (Kerala Blasters FC)

Two goals and one assist does not clearly justify the millions of dollars spent for importing the former Celtic FC player ahead of the season. Yes, Kerala Blasters FC expected merrier returns from Gary Hooper, but so far he’s not reached the extra miles as per his reputation back in Europe. That he was dropped for a couple of games in the first leg of the league itself paints a sorry sight for the former UEFA Champions League player. With the centre-forward struggling to find his footing in a new league, the Blasters’ goal-scoring options tapered subsequently, hurting their ambitions in the ongoing league, with them still lying low at the 10th position with just a couple of wins.

Australian's Jordan Murray has eclipsed the Hooper for the time being, with the former netting four goals so far and scoring at least one in the couple of games the club has won so far. With the axe behind his neck, it’s doubtful whether Kibu Vicuna can afford the luxury to give playing time to Gary Hooper for finding back his lost touch.

Steven Taylor (Odisha FC)

Having played more than 10 years at Newcastle United, Steven Taylor required no testimonial to prove his worth before signing over the dotted line for the ISL club. But, living up to the hype cannot be foretold. That’s exactly where Odisha FC have been unlucky, with their investments reaping no returns so far. Conceding 16 goals in 10 matches speaks loads about the quality of defending done by the ‘Juggernauts’ so far.

With an average of four clearances per game, we ought to expect higher standards from expensive recruits, especially if the side aspires to make it to the playoffs in the season. Taylor’s haplessness was evident from the way SC East Bengal scored three goals a few days ago, with the footballer failing to mark his man, something that even children know how to do better. Technically, Odisha FC still have a realistic chance of staging a turn-around, but whether the Englishman would be an influential figure in the rise, is for the future to tell.

Jakub Sylvestr (Chennaiyin FC)

Deputed with the task of filling in the boots of Nerijus Valskis was always going to be a tough task, especially with the outgoing footballer setting the standards sky-high - earning the golden boot in the previous season. Even if Jakub Sylvestr delivered even half of his predecessor, Chennaiyin FC would have been dreaming of playoff berths by now. But, with one strike and two assists, the foreigner hardly elated his employer’s hope in the ongoing season.

It has seen them stuck in eighth place on the league table, having collected 11 points from 10 games, with just two wins to their name. It’s not that the Slovakian international went about this business silently, having taken 23 shots, but it looks like he has left his shooting boots back in Europe before hitting Indian shores. The forward-line has been dysfunctional to such an extent that their head coach Csaba Laszlo could not resist him from lashing out and stating that the players ‘need to push the ball into the net.’

Bakary Kone (Kerala Blasters FC)

Another high-profile signing that was supposed to pay-off for the Blasters, but it never did. The former Olympique Lyon footballer was vested with the responsibility to guard the goal for them but Bakary Kone has failed to check the onslaught of attacks from the other side field till now. Not surprisingly, the South-Indian side conceded at least one goal in six of the seven matches Bakary featured for them this season.

With a tally of 22 clearances, 17 tackles, and 11 interceptions, the centre-back is quite a few shades dull than the others plying the same trade. Overall, the ‘Tuskers’ have conceded the most number of goals so far, among the 11 teams, having shipped in 19 in 10 matches and have the worst goal difference too. Incidentally, he was not a part of either one of the two matches they have won so far. Guess that’s an indication for the management.

Kristian Opseth (Bengaluru FC)

Bengaluru’s search to rope in the perfect player to fill Miku’s shoes is still ongoing, with Kristian Opseth proving to be one of their worst buys this season. The Norwegian footballer may have fared well in the Scandanavian country, but that experience has not come in handy so far in the Indian Super League. With ‘no’ strikes from 11 matches, there’s no better explanation why the former champions are struggling at the moment.

Even if we peep into other aspects, he’s been bang average with a total of 16 shots and two crosses to his name, while one assist against Kerala Blasters FC is the only silver lining. The ‘Blues’ have not shown any inclination to recruit a backup for the rest of the season, which indicates that Opseth will get more time to prove himself on Indian soil.

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