The Indian Super League (ISL) will conduct its Indian players' draft for the 2017-18 season in Mumbai on Sunday, with more than 200 footballers up for grabs for the 10 participating teams. A minimum of 134 players will need to be purchased by 10 teams across 15 rounds, with 13 of them needing to be U-21. Here's all you need to know about the draft on Sunday morning.
All ISL teams are required to have a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 18 Indian players in their squad, which must include at least two Under-21 players. All teams were given the option of retaining a maximum of two senior players, and up to three U-21 players, from the 2016 squads. The total squad size must comprise a minimum of 22 players and a maximum of 25 players.
Every team must have with a minimum of 7 and a maximum of 8 foreigners. No team has been allowed to retain foreign players, and they are not part of the draft. Every team has to seek the league's permission for the first seven foreigners they sign. However, it's not required if they choose to sign an eighth one.
How does the draft work?
The draft will consist of 15 rounds, with the sequence decided by a draw of lots on Saturday evening.
Jamshedpur FC, as the new team, will get the first pick in the opening round. Delhi Dynamos, who haven't retained any players, will go second. That will conclude the first round.
Jamshedpur will get the first pick in the second round as well, followed Delhi and FC Pune City. (A draw of lots will decide which one of the latter two goes first.)
All other teams, with the exception of Chennaiyin FC, will join the draft in the third round. (Chennaiyin have retained four players - two senior and two U-21 -- and one of their U-21 players, Jerry Lalrinzuala, is a capped player, so they would join in last, in the fourth round.)
Teams have been given a salary cap of Rs 18 crore (about $ 2.8 million) for which a minimum of Rs 5.5 crore (about $ 850,000) is available for purchasing Indian players. It's important to note that marquee players are not considered a part of the salary cap.
Teams will also have something called the Instant Trading Card, wherein the third round onwards, any club may, within 15 seconds of another club announcing a draft pick, press a buzzer and get a chance to propose, negotiate and close the deal with another team within a stipulated time. The Instant Trading Card can be used twice by a given team during the draft.
With many teams retaining their big players, the two most prominent members of the draft pool would be former Pune midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh and former Delhi defender Anas Edathodika.
ESPN understands that both players have been given a contract value of Rs 1.1 crore (approximately $ 170,000). Consistent performers from previous seasons, such as Sandip Nandy, Pritam Kotal, Jayesh Rane, Subrata Pal, Balwant Singh, Sena Ralte, Izumi Arata, Narayan Das and Mehtab Hossain would all be hoping for an early pick, especially if their past employers look for continuity by picking them for the next season.
Only two teams are starting with a fresh slate -- 2016 semi-finalists Delhi Dynamos and newcomers Jamshedpur -- with Delhi having let go of all their Indian players from the previous season. Pune retained only goalkeeper Vishal Kaith and their academy product Ashique Kuruniyan and will thus be placed just behind Jamshedpur and Delhi in the draft.
Six other teams -- champions Atletico de Kolkata, Bengaluru FC, FC Goa, Kerala Blasters, Mumbai City FC and NorthEast United -- have retained two senior players each, with Bengaluru, Kerala and Mumbai also retaining at least one U-21 player each. Chennaiyin have also retained two senior players -- Jeje Lalpekhlua and goalkeeper Karanjit Singh, while their retained U-21 players are winger Anirudh Thapa and defender Jerry Lalrinzuala. You can find the full list of retained players and latest ISL transfers here.
Young players to watch out for
Expect an interest in younger players who had an impressive I-League earlier this year -- like former Mohun Bagan left-back Subhasish Bose or Aizawl's defender Lalruatthara.
There are some potential left-of-field picks, who have represented India at Under-16 and Under-19 levels and have come through the ranks of AIFF Elite Academy, such as Nijwm Muchahary of Assam, Kyntiew Kharlukhi of Meghalaya, Amit Tudu of Bengal, and Surya Tirkey from Jharkhand. Similarly, Mumbai's Umesh Perambra and Kerala's Ajith Sivan and Akshay Joshy were all spotted during Reliance Foundation's inter-college football championship earlier this year and could find themselves with ISL contracts if teams want to take a punt on their talent, especially for the U-21 players quota.