Pre-season form: Very good. He has scored five goals in six matches in the Durand Cup.

Gone are the days when Indian Super League teams signed marquee foreign players for a month or two. Over the years, we have seen foreign players play a huge role in shaping their team's season. Some of them became great legends playing multiple seasons and starring for their teams. As the new ISL season kicks off on Friday with Kerala Blasters taking on East Bengal, let's take a look at five key foreign players in the league. Ogbeche goals are assured. He is the league's all-time leading goalscorer with 53 goals in 77 matches. Thanks to his prowess last season - 18 goals in 20 matches - Hyderabad reached the play-offs, then the final and became champions, all for the first time. Hyderabad are not absolute favorites this season, so head coach Manolo Marquez needs his 38-year-old talisman to be at his best. Ogbeche is the most important player in the team and a slight dip in form could jeopardize the team's campaign.

Pre-season form: Solid. Scored three goals and played a key role in Bengaluru FC winning their first Durand Cup title.

A new team for Krishna this season and his presence is definitely a firecracker when it comes to challenging for the title. Since Miku's departure, Bengaluru have been missing a proper goal-scoring forward - and this has shown in their league performances over the last two seasons. This is his fourth season in the league so there is plenty of experience. The player has scored 36 goals in 60 matches and has also provided 18 assists. If Sunil Chhetri and Krishna do their thing, they will stop short. Pre-season form: Durand Cup player of the year. Mumbai City FC reached the final with six goals from seven matches. Mumbai City flexed their financial muscle to sign last season's player of the year Stewart from Jamshedpur FC. The most complete player in the league, Stewart can score from half chances, is good at free kicks, can pick up brilliant passes and is always ready to put in the hard yards. Mumbai will take few stops with Stewart driving them. Baumus was a signing for ATK Mohun Bagan last season and played his part as the team reached the playoffs after finishing third in the table. He played 17 matches and scored five goals and five assists. After a difficult pre-season that also included an exit from the AFC Cup, Juan Ferrando will feel the pressure. They have lost key players in Krishna and David Williams, and the top-line is mostly Indian players. This is where Baumus has to step up with his creative skills and experience. If he plays to his strengths... and finds consistency, he can be a difference maker. The Blasters brought in Diamantakos and Apostolos Giannu to replace Alvaro Vázquez and Jorge Pereira Diaz - both of whom were crucial parts of last season's run to the finals. Diamantakos comes to the ISL from Croatian top flight club HNK Hajduk Split. The 29-year-old previously played for Olympiakos and has represented the senior Greece team at international level. There is no shortage of experience and goals, but this will be his first season in the league and his main focus will be adapting. Speed ​​and aerial threat to run behind defenders. On paper, he looks like the perfect man for Ivan Vukomanovic's preferred 4-4-2 (or 4-2-2-2) formation. A brand new Indian Super League season is upon us, finally breaking free from the organic bubble and returning to home stadiums, it promises to be a cracker.  This ISL season is also important from an Indian football perspective, as is the AFC Asian Cup next year. A number of players will be looking to impress national coach Igor Stimac ahead of the tournament, while some candidates will be looking to ensure no questions are asked about their position.

Sahal, the undisputed star of the Kerala Blasters rankings, had something of a breakthrough in last year's ISL and will look to give the Yellow Army more reasons to sing his name this year. Last year, Sahal played on the right behind two strikers in Ivan Vukomanovic's 4-2-2-2 formation, contributing six goals and one assist in the Blasters' run to the finals. In the off-season, he also forced into Stimac's Indian squad, scoring a crucial injury-time winner against Afghanistan in an Asian Cup qualifier in June. With the Yellow Sea expected to be out in full force in Kochi two years from now, there's nothing they'd love to see continue Sahl's upward trajectory (except perhaps, winning the ISL trophy). The emerging player of ISL 2021-22 will now face a completely different challenge. Second season syndrome is often a bigger challenge for many footballers than entering the field, and Bengaluru's Roshan will look to find a way around it. Roshan was Bengaluru's creative spark last season, whether it was putting in crosses from the flanks or accurate set-piece deliveries. Roshan scored one goal (a stunning free-kick against the Blasters) and had seven assists. He's got the likes of Roy Krishna and Sunil Chhetri to bowl to this season, so don't be surprised if the youngster sets the ISL on fire once again. Manveer has had a big season with his first place in the national team thanks to the performances of Ashiq Kuruniyan and Liston Colaco. The striker will join the duo in the ATK Mohun Bagan attack this season and Manveer's goal scoring burden will increase as they look to deal with the losses of Roy Krishna and David Williams.

He scored six goals last season, but Juan Ferrando will be looking for more from his marksman this season.

Anirudh Thapa - Central Midfielder

In the last few months, Suresh Wangjam and Jackson Singh have been preferred over Thapa in the Indian middle order. The Chennaiyin FC captain now has to prove why he is still considered by some to be India's best midfielder. Chennaiyin is a young Indian team who will look up to their hero. With all their foreigners new to the ISL, the consistency and control that Thapa brings to the midfield will be crucial for Chennaiyin FC. His performances this season will be crucial to Thomas Bradaric's side and his own chances of making Stimac's starting XI. Sandesh Jhingan is back in Bengaluru, hungry to win trophies and show why he is the leader of the Indian defense ahead of the Asian Cup. marinder Singh has had an interesting summer at ATK Mohun Bagan, considered surplus to requirements, but now looks to lead Odisha FC into the playoffs for the first time.

Honorable Mentions:

Lalengmavia Ralte is fresh from a two-week break with Belgium's Lommel SK and will be looking to build on two impressive seasons.

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