More than 200 players are up for auction at the draft for the fourth edition of the Indian Super League as 10 teams will look to build their squads for the upcoming season commencing in November later this year.

The teams will pick a minimum of 134 players from the first 15 draft rounds as each of the sides has to pick a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 18 domestic players from among a total squad size of 25. At least two Indians must be under the age of 21.

They will also have the option of buying a minimum of 7 foreigners off the open market. A salary cap of Rs 18 crore has been imposed on the teams. A maximum of Rs 12.5 crore may be spent on foreign players while the rest, a minimum of Rs 5.5 crore, must go towards the purchase of Indian players.

The purchase of a marquee player, should a team opt for it, will not count towards a team’s salary cap.

The instant Trading Card allows teams a second chance to trade an already picked player. From the third round onwards, any club may, within 15 seconds of another club announcing its Draft pick, press the buzzer to activate the “Instant Trade” process. Representatives of the clubs will then head to the Instant Trading Table to propose, negotiate and close the deal within a stipulated time.

Twenty-two players retained

Twenty two players, however, have been excluded from the draft including national team skipper Sunil Chhetri and ace striker Jeje Lalpekhlua as they have been retained by Bengaluru FC and Chennaiyin FC respectively.

The nine existing teams were given an option of retaining two players over the age of 21 and while seven teams opted to exercise the full quota, Pune City FC only retained keeper Vishal Kaith and Delhi Dynamos decided against retaining any of their players from last season.

Teams were given the option of retaining three Under-21 uncapped players and Bengaluru FC, Chennaiyin FC retained two while Pune City FC, Kerala Blasters FC and Mumbai City FC have filled one of those three slots. Jerry Lalrinzuala’s retention by CFC means that the Tamil Nadu-based team will lose a draft pick as the left-back is a full international.

While the newly-formed Jamshedpur FC will have the first pick in rounds 1 and 2, the Dynamos will join them as the second team in round 1. Pune City will join the two teams in round 3. The other teams will join the three existing ones in round 3, while Chennaiyin will only start drafting players from round 4.

Delhi Dynamos’ decision not to retain players has crossed many a mind and while it may look unwise to build from scratch while teams around them scramble to retain proven talent, this step may yet prove to be a masterstroke.

With retention an expensive affair and the Dynamos choosing two out of the first five picks, even if they do lose Anas Edathodika to Jamshedpur FC who have the first pick, there are some quality players in the draft that the capital city club can sign ahead of their rivals. Relatively cheaper picks in the opening rounds may also help them keep a large chunk of that 5.5 crore kitty or more, for the latter rounds of the Draft. Jamshedpur are also in a better, if not somewhat identical, position.

Atletico de Kolkata

Senior Players Retained: Debjit Majumder, Prabir Das

U21 Retained: None

Entry in Draft Round : 3

Bengaluru FC

Senior Players Retained: Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh

U21 Retained: Nishu Kumar, Malsawmzuala

Entry in Draft Round: 3

Chennaiyin FC

Senior Players Retained: Jeje Lalpekhlua, Karanjit Singh

U21 Retained: Jerry Lalrinzuala (capped), Anirudh Thapa

Entry in Draft Round: 4

Delhi Dynamos FC

Senior Players Retained: None

U21 Retained: None

Entry in Draft Round: 1

FC Goa

Senior Players Retained: Laxmikant Kattimani, Mandar Rao Dessai

U21 Retained: None

Entry in Draft Round: 3

FC Pune City

Senior Players Retained: Vishal Kaith

U21 Retained: Ashique Kuruniyan

Entry in Draft Round: 2

Kerala Blasters FC

Senior Players Retained: CK Vineeth, Sandesh Jhingan

U21 Retained: Prashanth Karuthadathkuni

Entry in Draft Round: 3

Mumbai City FC

Senior Players Retained: Amrinder Singh, Sehnaj Singh

U21 Retained: Rakesh Oram

Entry in Draft Round: 3

North East United FC

Senior Players Retained: Rowllin Borges, TP Rehenesh

U21 Retained: None

Entry in Draft Round: 3

Jamshedpur FC

Senior Players Retained: None

U21 Retained: None

Entry in Draft Round: 1

A preference towards keepers

Out of the eight franchises who did retain players, six happened to keep hold of their goalies from previous season including Mumbai City retaining Amrinder Singh and Debjit Majumder of Atletico de Kolkata bagging deals worth more than a crore.

With the ISL’s decision to restrict the number of on-field foreigners to five from six previously, clubs have made a beeline for a safe pair of hands made in India. Luckily for the other four, there are some quality keepers remaining in the draft.

Subrata Paul is the keeper with the highest value of Rs 87 lakh, while ex-Bengaluru FC keepers Arindam Bhattacharjya and Lalthuammawia Ralte with values of Rs 73 and Rs 38 lakhs respectively are also available.

The four teams that haven’t picked a keeper yet, i.e Bengaluru, Kerala Blasters, Jamshedpur and Dynamos may all opt for in-form man Albino Gomes as their first choice keeper. The ex-Mumbai FC man and I-League winner with Aizawl, will be highly sought after.

Who are the left-of-field choices?

An interesting facet of the draft values seem to be a reflection, more of the player’s historical performances and not the immediate one- or two-season form. Eugeneson Lyndoh, at 30, hasn’t had the most stellar of seasons for Bengaluru FC but is one of the two highest valued players in the Draft, along with Anas, at Rs 1.1 crore.

Hence, the Draft is not expected to proceed strictly as per value, and teams with a bit of shrewd thinking from their representatives can acquire bargain signings, some of whose values may have been a bit understated.

The title winners from Aizawl would be useful additions to any squad with Gomes, Jayesh Rane, Ashutosh Mehta, Zohmingliana ‘Zotea’ Ralte and Lalruatthara fresh off a path-breaking season. Similarly, the young guns from Shillong Lajong Isaac Vanmalsawma, Nim Dorjee Tamang, Chinglensana Singh, Bipin Singh and Samuel Shadap are also expected to be in demand.

Midfield enforcers are not in abundance and Pronay Halder, Harmanjot Khabra, Milan Singh and Dhanpal Ganesh are four players to watch out for. Attackers Kean Lewis, Halicharan Narzary and Lallinzuala Changte may attract admiring glaces.

The Draft starts at 9.30 pm on Sunday.