The top 5 Indian players to watch out for ISL 2022-23

Naorem Roshan Singh, Manvir Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad ESPN

A fresh Indian Super League season is upon us, and finally free from bio-bubbles and back in home stadiums, it promises to be a cracker.

This ISL season is also important from an Indian football perspective, with the AFC Asian Cup next year. Several players will look to impress national coach Igor Stimac before the tournament, while some incumbents would be looking to ensure that there are no questions asked about their spot.

ESPN takes a look at five Indian players who you should be looking out for in ISL 2022-23.

Sahal Abdul Samad - Attacking midfielder

The undisputed star in the Kerala Blasters ranks, Sahal had something of a breakthrough in last year's ISL and he will be looking to give the Manjappada more reasons to sing his name this year.

Last year, Sahal played on the right side behind the two strikers in Ivan Vukomanovic's 4-2-2-2 formation, contributing six goals and an assist in the Blasters' run to the final.

In the off-season, he's also forced his way into Stimac's Indian team, and scored a crucial injury-time winner against Afghanistan in the Asian Cup qualifiers in June.

With the Yellow Sea expected to be out in full force in Kochi after two years away, there's nothing they'd love more than for Sahal's upward trajectory to continue (well, maybe except winning the ISL trophy).

Naorem Roshan Singh - Fullback

The Emerging Player of ISL 2021-22 will now deal with a completely different challenge. Second-season syndrome is often a bigger challenge than bursting on to the scene for many footballers, and Bengaluru's Roshan will look to find his way around that.

Roshan was Bengaluru's creative spark last season, whether it was putting in crosses from either flank or pinpoint set-piece deliveries. Roshan scored one goal (a stunning free-kick against the Blasters) and popped up with seven assists.

He's got the likes of Roy Krishna and Sunil Chhetri to feed balls to this season, so don't be surprised if the youngster once again sets the ISL on fire.

Lallianzuala Chhangte - Wing forward

Chhangte scored just five goals in the last two ISL seasons, but he finished last month's Durand Cup as the tournament's top-scorer with seven goals.

Mumbai City Coach Des Buckingham said that his staff has worked a lot with Chhangte since he signed in January to ensure his output in the final third, and that translated into his performance at the Durand Cup.

In an attack that has the likes of Greg Stewart, Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Bipin Singh, Chhangte should find plenty of joy on the right flank.

Manvir Singh - Wing forward

This is a massive season for Manvir, with his starting spot in the national team coming under the scanner due to the performances of Ashique Kuruniyan and Liston Colaco. The striker will team up with those two in the ATK Mohun Bagan attack this season, and as they look to cope with the losses of Roy Krishna and David Williams, Manvir's goal-scoring burden will increased.

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

Anirudh Thapa - Central midfielder

In the last few months, Suresh Wangjam and Jeakson Singh were preferred over Thapa in the Indian midfield. The Chennaiyin FC captain now has to prove why he's still considered by some as India's best midifielder.

It is a young Indian contingent at Chennaiyin, who will be looking up to their skipper. With their foreigners all being new to the ISL as well, the stability and control that Thapa brings to midfield will be crucial for Chennaiyin FC.

His performances this season will be critical both for Thomas Brdaric's side and his own prospects of making Stimac's starting XI.

Honourable Mentions:

Lalengmawia Ralte is fresh off a two-week stint with Lommel SK in Belgium, and looking to build on an impressive couple of seasons.

Sandesh Jhingan is back in Bengaluru and hungrier than ever to win trophies and show why he is the leader of the Indian defence before the Asian Cup.

Amrinder Singh has had an interesting summer, deemed surplus to requirements at ATK Mohun Bagan, but now looking to lead Odisha FC to the playoffs for the first time.