Defenders play a crucial role in the success of any team. Not only do they shut the door on opposition attacks, but they also contribute in an attacking sense, regardless of whether the defender is a full-back or a centre-half.
The following list explores some of the best defenders in the ISL and includes those who continue to impress in the ISL and those who have made their mark in the ISL and departed.
Undoubtedly one of the most consistent left-backs in the league, Subashish Bose is a stern contender for one of the best defensive players in the ISL. Currently playing for Mohun Bagan, the left-back has also sported the kits of Bengaluru FC and Mumbai City FC in the past.
Subashish Bose provides some much-needed stability on the defensive front, and he can also venture forward and put in valuable crosses. Bose has spent five years in the ISL so far and has provided four assists. As mentioned earlier, Bose is a left-back who ensures he gets his defensive side of things right.
Long-time Mohun Bagan man Pritam Kotal features in defence of ATK Mohun Bagan along with Subashish Bose. The right-back has had stints with Pune City FC, Atlético de Kolkata, and Delhi Dynamos. The India international has moved into his eighth season in the ISL with ATK Mohun Bagan.
Kotal likes to venture forward along with performing his defensive duties. He has registered six assists and has scored on four occasions. He is also known for the solidity he provides to his team.
Rahul Bheke moves into his seventh season in the ISL with Mumbai City FC. The right-back, who can also slot in as centre-back when needed, has played in the blue of Bengaluru FC for the most significant part of his career. He is now sporting the blue of Mumbai City FC in the ISL.
Bheke gets involved from corners and is a threat with his head. He also possesses a dangerous long throw that BFC have utilised on multiple occasions during his time at the club. Bheke has scored five goals, one of which came as the decider in the final against FC Goa, and has registered five assists.
Although not a part of the ISL anymore, Jhingan has been an imposing presence during his six seasons in the ISL. Jhingan spent six seasons with the Kerala Blasters, where he became a popular figure, which also included a loan spell with the Blues, and finished off his ISL stint with ATK Mohun Bagan.
In terms of Jhingan’s attributes, he is a crucial figure at the back and keeps things tight for his side. He also possesses excellent passing abilities and can play it long when needed. He registered a total of four assists during his time in the ISL.
Jerry Lalrinzuala moves into his sixth season in the ISL with Chennaiyin FC. The left-back has spent all his time in the ISL with the Chennai-based club. The pacey left-back loves to get forward and make use of his dribbling ability.
Jerry’s quick feet let him take on opposition full-backs and deliver crosses into the box. Despite being just 23 years old, Jerry already possesses tons of experience in the ISL. He has registered six assists in the league and looks threatening coming into the new season.
The winger-turned-left-back, Ashique, has become a fan favourite in recent years and is one of those in contention for the best left-backs in the league. Although not defensively dominant, Ashique suits the Blues’ playing style to keep possession and play intensive attacking football.
The 24-year-old moves into his sixth season in the ISL, which also includes a spell at Pune City FC. The left-back loves to bomb forward, a feature which he showcased in the Blues’ opener against NorthEast United.
The young left-back has a total of four goals and five assists in the ISL so far and will be keen to add to those numbers in the 2021/22 season.
Adil Khan, an experienced campaigner, will go down as one of the best defenders in the ISL. He has spent several stints with various clubs in the ISL.
Currently with East Bengal, Adil has previously represented the Delhi Dynamos, Pune City FC, Hyderabad FC, and FC Goa.
The 33-year-old is a severe threat from corners. So far, he has registered a total of six goals in the ISL. East Bengal will be looking to make the most of Adil’s ability in the air, in both an attacking and a defensive sense.
Yet another left-back to make it into the list of best defenders in the ISL is Narayan Das. Currently playing for Chennaiyin FC, Narayan Das has represented various ISL clubs including East Bengal, FC Goa, Delhi Dynamos, and Odisha FC. The experienced left-back is moving into his eighth season in the ISL.
Narayan Das, like most left-backs, likes to get ahead and contribute in an attacking sense. His ISL tally for assists currently stands at seven, a number he will be looking to improve upon in the 2021/22 campaign.
In previous campaigns, Lucian Goian, a former Romania U21 international, was a steady choice for Mumbai City FC. The centre-back spent four seasons in the ISL, including just a single season with Chennaiyin and the rest with Mumbai City FC.
Goian is a part of this list because of his ability to defend well and his ability from set-pieces in an attacking sense. His tally for goals in the ISL stands at five — a number that is reasonably good for any defender. However, these numbers will not be increasing as it looks like Goian’s time in the ISL has come to an end.
Mourtada Fall has spent just three seasons in the ISL and could well become the best defender to have ever played in the league. He spent two seasons with FC Goa before moving to Mumbai City FC, the club he is representing in the 2021/22 campaign.
Fall’s ability to score goals is impeccable. His numbers could be considered comparable to any top midfielder in the league. The Senegalese has found the back of the net on thirteen occasions and has registered three assists in just three seasons of the ISL. Mumbai City FC will be hoping for Fall to continue his purple patch in the ISL moving into the 2021/22 season.