The Indian Super League (ISL) has seen some outstanding players from the country and from abroad. Looking back, several player transfers, based on the amount of money a player was brought in for and/or the impact he went on to have on the team, are considered extremely successful moves.
In this article, I bring to you some of the most successful transfers in ISL history. The list looks to bring together some of the best signings in the early years of the league as well as some stunning buys over the last few years.
Also read: Top 8 Indian Super League (ISL) coaches of all time
Miku to Bengaluru FC
As far as transfers go, there were few bigger than the Venezuelan striker’s move from Rayo Vallecano to Bengaluru FC in 2017. Miku was just into his thirties then and still at the peak of his powers. The striker joined the Blues for a reported ₹3.33 crore — a huge sum at the time in Indian football — and went on to significantly impact the team’s performance in the ISL.
BFC made it to the final of the ISL in Miku’s first-ever season in 2017/18. He was also the second-highest goal-scorer of the season, falling only three goals short of Coro’s tally, who ended with 18 goals. Miku also scored a late goal in the final but was unable to do enough to secure the trophy for his side.
Unfortunately for Miku, he couldn’t contribute much to BFC’s title-winning campaign the following year as he scored five goals in 12 appearances and departed after the season ended. However, Bengaluru have not yet been able to replace his quality and goals. The closest they have gotten is when they brought in Roy Krishna ahead of the 2022/23 season.
Stiven Mendoza to Chennaiyin FC
We have to go all the way back to the first-ever season of the ISL to understand the Stiven Mendoza singing. He played for Chennaiyin FC in the 2014 and 2015 seasons of the ISL, leading them to their first ISL trophy in 2015. He scored the winner in the 2015 final, completing one of the most stunning turnarounds in ISL history.
Mendoza kicked on from the ISL to have quite a successful career. He has gone on to play for Corinthians and Santos in the Brazilian topflight, while also featuring in Ligue 1, France’s top tier of professional football, with Amiens. He also broke into the Colombian national side, making a couple of appearances for them.
Lallianzuala Chhangte to Mumbai City FC
The only Indian player on this list is the tricky left-footed winger for Mumbai City FC, Lallianzuala Chhangte. The fleet-footed winger is arguably the best Indian player in the ISL at the moment; the only others who could contest for that title are Suresh Wangjam and Phurba Lachenpa.
Chhangte first made his mark in the ISL at Chennaiyin, where he made over 50 appearances across three seasons. But he only became the threatening winger we know today after his move to Mumbai City. With an equally threatening winger on the opposite flank in Bipin Singh, the move to bring Chhangte to Mumbai was crucial. The Islanders look threatening across the front three and can score goals from midfield. Furthermore, Chhangte is one of the only left-footed right-wingers in the league that looks to cut onto his favoured side and make things happen.
Roy Krishna to ATK
The Fijian striker is among the best players to have played in the ISL ever. Krishna currently plays for Bengaluru FC, and it’s fair to say that he had a below-par season last time out.
Krishna stood out in the ISL in his first few seasons in India. He moved from Wellington to Kolkata in 2019 and took the league by storm, finishing as the joint-top scorer in his first season with 15 goals. Krishna also helped ATK win the ISL in 2019/20. His rich goal-scoring form continued into the following season as he racked up 14 goals to become the league’s joint-top scorer yet again.
Krishna still remains in the league, and his current club Bengaluru FC will be hoping for more in the 2023/24 season.
Bartholomew Ogbeche to Hyderabad FC
The former Paris Saint-Germain forward has been sensational since he arrived in India. He started his ISL career with NorthEast United FC, where he scored 12 goals in 18 games. He then had a wonderful season with Kerala Blasters FC, averaging nearly a goal per game.
However, in terms of impact, Ogbeche’s move to Hyderabad FC from Mumbai City FC in 2021 stands above the rest. He’s played two seasons for the south Indian club and has scored 28 goals across the two seasons he’s been there. He finished as the highest goal-scorer of the 2021/22 season, banging in 18 goals; second-placed Greg Stewart finished seven goals behind him.
Coro to FC Goa
The ISL has been lucky to host some brilliant Spanish players. Coro is arguably the best striker the ISL has seen. It was a momentous moment for FC Goa when they brought him in from Doxa in Cyprus. Coro played in the colours of Goa for three seasons and scored 48 goals during his stay.
FC Goa had arguably their best spell in the league during Coro’s stay at the club. They finished third in the league in his first season, then second in his second season and ended up topping the table in his third season. Coro finished as the leading goal-scorer in two of his three seasons in India and only missed out on the golden boot by one goal in his final season at the club.
Coro was a special player, and the ISL was lucky to have the former Espanyol and Elche man at the Goan club for a healthy period.
Hugo Boumous to ATK Mohun Bagan
French playmaker Hugo Boumous caught the eye of Indian football fans during his time at FC Goa, with whom he stayed until 2020 and then made the move to Mumbai City FC, whom he left after just a solitary season for ATK Mohun Bagan.
The Frenchman has been quiet, to say the least, during his time at the West Bengal club so far. He’s produced 10 goals and nine assists, meaning his numbers have decreased considerably since his FC Goa days.
Boumous was signed for a record-breaking transfer fee at the time and will earn a reported ₹12.5 crore over the course of his five-year contract. There is no doubting the magnitude of this move. All that is left to be seen is if Boumous can be the player Mohun Bagan expected him to be when they signed him.
Mourtada Fall to Mumbai City FC
You rarely see centre-backs stand out in a game that brings you glory for scoring goals and providing beautiful assists. Mourtada Fall is the exception on this list and the only defender to break in among loads of attackers.
Fall made his first ISL appearance with FC Goa in 2018, after which he made quite an impression. After his two-year stay at the Goan club, Mumbai City FC came calling.
Fall has become integral to the Mumbai City setup since his move. He starts nearly every game for the team and is a significant threat on set pieces at the other end. He signed a contract extension in 2022 that kept him in Mumbai until the end of the 2022/23 season. It remains to be seen what lies ahead for the Senegalese defender.