The former English forward Paul Merson believes that with guys like Nicolas Anelka and Robert Pires going to play in the first Indian Super League, it will raise the standard of the tournament quite high.
Anelka and Pires, both of whom have played Premier League football in England, will be featuring for the central India based clubs i.e. Mumbai City and FC Goa respectively.
As per Merson, ISL is going to have the similar impact as the Indian Premier League, a franchise based cricket tournament in India.
Speaking in a television programme yesterday, the 46-year old said, “We all know how good IPL has been for Indian Cricket. It has given a platform to the youngsters. They play with renowned international players in that tournament and get to learn how to play in different situations. The Indian Cricket has got better and better since the birth of IPL.”
“I think something similar would be the case with football as well there in India. I see some great guys like Anelka have signed up. So, it’s going to be huge especially for the young players there.”
Merson had been Anelka’s teammate for a couple of years towards the end of his Arsenal career.
When asked how capable the Frenchman was in his younger days, Merson said, “He was phenomenal. He used to beat some of the really experience players in one on one during the training sessions. You could sense that the kid had a long way to go. He had all the qualities of a superstar, especially his confidence; it was just striking.”
Apart from Arsenal, Anelka has played for Manchester City and Chelsea as well, the two other top English clubs.
He has the experience of playing in Asia too. He spent a year at Shanghai Shenhua, a Chinese club in 2012-13.