The Indian Super League (ISL) season 2022–23 is about to begin in four days, and all clubs are preparing for an exciting campaign. Fans will return to the stadium for season nine after a two-year hiatus as clubs will now play in a home-and-away system.
Many young people in the past have excelled in the ISL and been called up to the national squad. A club needs talented young players to be successful, and this season, many have the potential to shine.
Here is the list of the top 10 Indian players under the age of 23 in the ISL 2022-23 season:
The 22-year-old Keralan midfielder will play for NorthEast United in the ISL 2022–2023 after switching teams from Gokulam Kerala FC. In the I–League season 2021–22, Emil helped Gokulam Kerala win the championship by scoring one goal and providing two assists. He has played for Gokulam in 38 games overall, scoring four goals.
He was there at the 4-2 victory over ATK Mohun Bagan by Gokulam in the AFC Cup. Emil made his NorthEast United debut at the Durand Cup 2022, and he will be a key member of the midfield in both attack and defense.
Following his treble against East Bengal, Kiyan Nassiri became the ISL 2021–22’s youngest player to score a hat-trick. Kiyan scored against Rajasthan United in the inaugural Durand Cup match to get the current campaign off to a strong start.
He might not start every game this season, but he should take advantage of the few opportunities he has. He will try to handle the strain this season and has experience playing in the AFC Cup.
Himanshu Jangra, who is only 18 years old, is one of the most talented young players in Indian football. He was a member of The Guardian’s Next Generation list the previous year. Whether it was with Delhi FC or with the national young teams, he made an impression practically everywhere he played. Himanshu performed well in the sub-junior system, scoring 18 goals in the I-League.
Himanshu will make his professional debut in the ISL during the 2022–23 season, having been promised a brighter future by many in the Indian football scene. He is now on loan at East Bengal from Delhi FC. One of the young (U-23) players to watch out for is Himanshu.
Sahil Panwar played 12 games for Odisha FC in the ISL in 2021–2022. He did well in the Durand Cup, giving Diego Mauricio the assist in the match against Bengaluru FC in the quarterfinals.
He will try to offer excellent crosses from the left wing in addition to his defense. Sahil and Shubham Sarangi, who have both been at the club for more than a year, will make a strong pairing.
Nemil was selected for the FC Goa team for the ISL season 2022–2023 following a strong performance at the Durand Cup 2022. After participating in 14 games the previous season, Nemil will play in the ISL for the second time this year.
The 20-year-Durand old’s Cup 2022 campaign got off to a strong start with goals in the first two games against Mohammedan SC and Indian Air Force. He may not get to start in every match of the ISL 2022–2023, but he must make the most of his limited playing time.
For the ISL from 2022 to 2023, Vincy Barretto was Chennaiyin FC’s first local acquisition. The two-time ISL champions acquired the player after paying a transfer fee to Kerala Blasters. Due to an injury, Vincy was unable to participate in the Durand Cup to start the season, although had already made a name for himself playing for the Kerala Blasters the previous year.
Apart from Thoi Singh, Chennaiyin FC hasn’t had an attacking right winger in a few seasons. However, this season, Chennaiyin may anticipate high-caliber crosses and assists thanks to Vincy. This season, he will be among the top U-23 Indian players to watch.
The Manipur native, 21, has three seasons of ISL playing experience after playing for NorthEast United. His second campaign with Chennaiyin FC will begin this year. Ninthoi is a skilled player who is equally at home on the right and left wings. He filled up for Vincy during the Durand Cup 2022 by supplying strong crosses from the right wing.
Given his preseason performance, head coach Thomas Bradic is likely to give Ninthoi a lot of playing time this year. However, Alexandar Romario and Vincy will present a difficult challenge to Ninthoi once they are back in shape.
Narender Gahlot is now a Juggernaut after spending some time at Jamshedpur FC and having success. In four games during the league stage of the Durand Cup 2022, Odisha FC was the only side without a goal conceded. The position of center-back will be filled by Carlos Delgado and Narender Gahlot.
Although Odisha FC has yet to make the playoffs, the ISL season of 2022–23 should be a huge one for them thanks to a strong defensive structure that combines youth and experience.
Sivasakthi Narayanan has signed for the Bengaluru FC reserve team since leaving the Raman Vijayan academy. The 21-year-old was recruited to play in the AFC Cup after having an outstanding start to the BDSA tier league and scored in his first game.
He served as a substitute in every game up till the final of the Durand Cup in 2022. Sivasakthi was included in the starting XI with Sunil Chettri and Roy Krishna because the coach had complete faith in him. This may be a sign that Sivasakthi may play more minutes for Simom Grayson’s team in the ISL in 2022–2023. He is among the best U-23 players competing in the ISL right now.
One advantage for East Bengal at the Durand Cup 2022 has been Lalchungnunga. He was on loan from Sreenidhi Deccan FC when he joined the Red & Golds, where he was instrumental, contributing one goal and five assists.
The Mizoram defense can attack as well, as was seen in the ISL. He will gain valuable experience by teaming up with Ivan Gonzalez, who has experience.
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