The Hero I-League's 2018-19 season began on Friday and is expected to be an exciting one this season considering many teams have fairly strengthened their squads for the campaign.
While foreigners are always said to be pretty critical to every I-League side, we take a look at five Indian players who could attain superstar status in Indian football by the end of this season....
5. Souvik Das - Minerva Punjab
One of the youngsters to watch out for this season in the I-League, Souvik Das joined Minerva Punjab from Sporting Goa. He started his career out from the AIFF's U-19 Elite Academy.
Das made his debut for Minerva Punjab on 13th January 2017 and has since then established himself as one of the top Indian midfielders in the I-League. Earlier in his career, the 23-year-old captained the Indian national football team at the under-19 level.
Souvik Das has made a total of 18 appearances for Minerva Punjab in all competitions and scored one goal.
4. Alexander Romario Jesuraj - Chennai City
After having already scored a goal in Chennai City FC's opening fixture of the I-League on Friday against Indian Arrows, Alexander Romario Jesuraj will be hoping to continue impressing at the top level in the remainder of the season.
The 22-year-old midfielder made 15 appearances for Chennai City last season and played for 795 minutes throughout the season on his way to become one of the most important players at the club. This season is Jesuraj's big chance to establish himself as one of the best in the I-League.
3. Pintu Mahata - Mohun Bagan
Mohun Bagan's Pintu Mahata is definitely one of the most exciting young footballers in the country right now.
The 21-year-old winger scored his first goal on a dream debut for Mohun Bagan against their arch rivals East Bengal in the Kolkata derby as part of the Calcutta Football League in September. In the 20th minute, Mahata met a cross from the far post and sent it into the back of the net in what was definitely a dream-come-true moment for the youngster.
Mahata got a call-up in the senior team after regulars like Subhasish Bose and Raynier Fernandes succumbed to injuries before the derby. And now, the winger has made a permanent spot for himself at Bagan and will hope to continue the good work this season.
2. Danish Farooq Bhat - Real Kashmir
Famously termed by fans as 'Kashmiri Ronaldo', Real Kashmir forward Danish Farooq can quite possibly take the I-League by storm in his team's debut season.
Farooq started playing professionally at the age of 14 when he joined the J&K Bank Academy. Two years later, he was promoted to their senior team. Eventually, he joined Real Kashmir, a club which was founded in 2016. He was part of the team that created history by winning the second division I-League and thus got the chance to become the first club from Kashmir to play in India's top club football league.
The 22-year-old, six feet tall striker is sure to create some major problems for all teams that will face Real Kashmir this season.
1. Samuel Lalmuanpuia - Shillong Lajong
20-year-old midfielder Samuel Lalmuanpuia's joined Shillong Lajong way back in 2015. He gained promotions from the club's youth team in the Shillong Premier League. It was in these local tournaments that he showed his potential and eventually became the highest goal-scorer in the tournament.
Lalmuanpuia made his professional debut for Shillong Lajong in February 2016 against DSK Shivajians. Till date, the 20-year-old has played 42 matches in the I-League and has managed to score seven and assist five goals.
It was with such performances that last season, Lalmuanpuia was awarded with the 'Best Emerging Player (U-22)' title for his outstanding performances. This year, he also became one of the youngest players to have earned a captain's armband in I-League.
This season could be a huge breakout season for Lalmuanpuia. Shillong finished sixth last season and he would definitely want to perform to the best of his potential to help his team finish higher.