The seventh edition of the Indian Super League begins in Goa on Friday with the addition of an eleventh team to the fray.
SC East Bengal have been drafted into the competition. after their arch-rivals Mohun Bagan merged with current champions ATK.
Every year teams have zeroed in on a formula for squad composition that is best suited for the ISL. The league has moved on from marquee players, often big superstars from European football in the twilight of their careers.
Now, unknown foreign names who still have some football left in them are being preferred while on the domestic front young players are attracting teams’ attention.
As the new season approaches, here’s a look at how the age profile of league has changed since its inception in 2014.
Average age comparison of every ISL season
|Season||Average age of players in ISL|
The average age of players in ISL has been on the decline since the 2016 season, when the league expanded to ten teams and the marquee player rule was done away with. However, for the first time in four years, the average age of players in the ISL has risen ahead of the 2020-’21 season. The rise isn’t very significant but it’s bucked the trend of lowering average age figures in recent years.
While there is no correlation between average age numbers and end results of the teams across the six years in ISL, the outcomes do tend to go one way or the other if individual seasons are analysed.
In 2017-’18 season, the four youngest teams qualified for the semi-finals. Two years back in 2015, three out of the four youngest teams made it to the last four.
On the other hand, in the inaugural campaign, three out of the four oldest teams came through the group phase. Last season, the two oldest teams contested the final.
Ahead of the 2020-’21 season, here are the average ages of all teams.
Average age of ISL teams in 2020-21 season
|Mumbai City FC||25.3|
|ATK Mohun Bagan||26.1|
|SC East Bengal||27.5|
Odisha FC have the youngest squad in the ISL this season after signing a host of young Indian players in the transfer window. The two Kolkata clubs are at the other end of the table, with the oldest squads in the competition this season.
Last season’s finalists Chennaiyin’s squad is also on the older side, so is that of Bengaluru FC. Jamshedpur FC and Mumbai City FC, who have been among the top spenders in the recent transfer window, boast young squads this season.
Looking at the Indian and foreign contingents separately, Odisha and Jamshedpur continue to lead the way when it comes to the average age of local players.
Average age of Indian contingents of ISL teams
|Mumbai City FC||23|
|ATK Mohun Bagan||23.8|
|SC East Bengal||24.5|
FC Goa have the oldest Indian contingent in the league and last season’s finalists have the third oldest set of Indian players in the league. ATK Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have a relatively younger group of local players compared to their overall average age. Bengaluru FC, who have an overall older squad, have opted for youth when it comes to Indian players.
Average age of foreign contingents of ISL teams
|SC East Bengal||29.6|
|Mumbai City FC||30.1|
|ATK Mohun Bagan||30.3|
NorthEast United have the youngest foreign contingent, while Bengaluru FC, who have an almost unchanged set of foreign players, have the oldest. East Bengal, who possess the oldest squad in the league, have the second youngest set of foreign players.
Robbie Fowler thus has a fairly good age profile with an experienced group of Indian players combining with the youngest set of foreigners. Odisha, on the other hand, have put faith in youth in all departments.
Sergio Lobera too has assembled a squad with a good balance of young and older players at Mumbai City FC.
Looking at position-wise age profiles of teams, FC Goa have the youngest striking department in the division, while Mumbai City FC have the oldest.
Average of attacks of ISL teams in 2020-21
|ATK Mohun Bagan||27|
|SC East Bengal||27.6|
|Mumbai City FC||34.5|
When it comes to the midfield department, Odisha have the youngest midfield with an average age of just 22 while East Bengal have the oldest midfield in the competition.
Average of midfields of ISL teams in 2020-21
|Mumbai City FC||23.8|
|ATK Mohun Bagan||25.9|
|SC East Bengal||27.2|
In defence, Hyderabad boast the youngest contingent with an average age of just 21.6 while Kerala Blasters have the oldest rearguard.
Average of defences of ISL teams in 2020-21
|Mumbai City FC||24.1|
|ATK Mohun Bagan||25.5|
|SC East Bengal||26.5|
When it comes to the goalkeeping department, ATK Mohun Bagan have the youngest set of custodians while arch-rivals East Bengal have the oldest.
Average of GKs of ISL teams in 2020-21
|ATK Mohun Bagan||22.2|
|Mumbai City FC||23.8|
|SC East Bengal||26.3|