The new I-League campaign will be shorn of local talent, who cut their teeth in the competition, which was until last season the top-tier league in the country. As many as 28 Indian players moved to the Indian Super League (ISL) during the off-season.
Some of the high profile names to undergo transfers were Jobby Justin, Edwin Sydney Vanspaul, Bilal Khan, Arjun Jayaraj and Gaurav Bora.
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Jobby was I-League’s top Indian goal-scorer last season with nine strikes for East Bengal, which finished second in the points table. His transfer to ATK in the summer wasn't smooth as a legal battle was drawn out with his former employer as to which club he would play for in the 2019-20 season.
Edwin moved from I-League champion Chennai City FC to ISL’s bottom-placed club Chennaiyin FC. Edwin was a revelation at Chennai City, impressing in an unfamiliar right-back role; notching up six assists. His defensive partner Bora, who scored the match-winning goals on the final day of the season, returned to FC Pune City after his loan spell came to an end before joining Odisha FC.
Khan was voted the goal-keeper of the season after his nine clean-sheets helped newly-promoted Real Kashmir FC finish third. Kashmir boasted the tightest defensive record in the division conceding just 14 goals and the on-loan custodian from Pune City played a pivotal role to the cause. The 25-year-old earned a move to Kerala Blasters in the summer.
Midfielder Jayaraj was a fan-favourite in Kozhikode-based club Gokulam Kerala, who caught the eyes of ISL clubs at his first season at the club in 2017. His former coach Bino George earmarked him for a potential big-money move last season and Jayaraj got his transfer in July to Kerala Blasters.
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FC Goa made just three signings in the summer and one among them was of Alexander Romario Jesuraj, who had a breakthrough season at Chennai City as a right-winger. Romario penned a three-year deal with the ISL runner-up before being loaned out to Mohun Bagan for the upcoming season.
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