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Indian Super League (ISL) players' draft first day.IMG

Sachin Tendulkar co-owned Indian Super League (ISL) franchise the Kerala Blasters drafted Indian international Nirmal Chettri, while Sourav Ganguly's Atletico de Kolkata roped-in strikers Denzil Franco and Mohammad Rafi on the first day of the domestic players' draft.

Tendulkar's club picked up seven Indian players on the opening day, including four Indian internationals - midfielder Mehtab Hossain, defender Chettri, Gurwinder Singh and Sandesh Jhingan.

The franchisee spent Rs 21.1 million with the top-pick being the Indian defender, who will get Rs 70 lakhs plus 33 percent loan fee share.

The Kolkata-based franchise also signed seven players, which includes three current East Bengal players - Arnab Mondal, Cavin Lobo and Mohammed Rafique. They spent Rs 16.9 million, with Franco (Rs 44 lakhs + 50 per cent loan fee share) being the top pick.

The Ganguly and Atletico Madrid co-owned team had also signed a couple of foreign players - former Liverpool midfielder Luis Garcia and former Real Madrid player Borja Fernandes - before the draft.

"It's a huge event in Indian football," Kolkata's assistant manager Jose Ramirez Barreto said on Tuesday. "We have good strikers in the list. We have Rafi today. I think still tomorrow we have another day so I do believe we will come out well.

"In the last round, clubs took time to take decision as there is less choice. Everyone has a plan. From our side, things are working according to our plan."

ISL's Mumbai franchisee also made some big signings on the opening day, including India international Sayed Rahim Nabi, goalkeeper Subrata Paul and East Bengal midfielder Lalrindika Ralte. Nabi and Paul, who are regular in the Indian National team, are the most expensive signings of the league, along with Gouramangi Singh, who was signed by Team Bengaluru.

Nabi has been a regular member of the national team from past three years and is considered as one of the most versatile players.

Paul is only the third Indian player, after skipper Sunil Chettri (Sporting Lisbon B) and former striker Bhaichung Bhutia (Bury FC), who has signed a professional contract with a European club. He recently had a stint with Danish Super League club FC Vestejaelland and is expected to return again after the ISL.

"I'm excited and happy to be part of the Mumbai team," Paul said. "I'm looking forward to it I had a good season in Denmark last year. Indian players have the capacity to make it abroad. Hopefully, after the ISL, more Indians can go and play for European clubs."

"The way the franchises are operating, it can be a good platform for Indian players," he added. "Hopefully, this also benefits the national team."

Players such as Sanju Pradhan, East Bengal goalkeeper Abhijit Mondal, Steven Dias and Climax Lawrence are yet to be drafted by any team.

Meanwhile, former Indian captain Bhutia is not pleased with the players' draft system and the money involved. The legendary Indian striker insisted that there should be an auction for the players so that they can get a better package.

"I am definitely not happy with the money," Bhutia said. "I would want them to get much more than what they are getting right now, even with the ISL as well. I would have been happy if there was an auction and the players get more money. But it is a good start."

Here is the list of players drafted on Day 1:

Team Pune: Lenny Rodrigues, Dharmaraj Ravanan, Ashutosh Mehta, Joaquim Abranches, Pritam Kotal, Manish Maithani and Israil Gurung.

Team Mumbai: Subrata Paul, Lalrindika Ralte, Syed Rahim Nabi, Raju Gaikwad, Subash Singh, Ram Malik and Deepak Mondal.

Kerala Blasters FC: Mehtab Hussain, Sandesh Jhingan, Ishfaq Ahmed, Gurwinder Singh, Nirmal Chettri, Sushant Matthew and Godwin Franco.

Team Bengaluru: Harmanjot Khabra, Dhanachandra Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Gouramangi Singh, Shilton Paul, Denson Devadas and Khelemba Meitei.

Atletico de Kolkata: Cavin Lobo, Arnab Mondal, Denzil Franco, Rakesh Masih, Mohammed Rafique, Mohammed Rafi and Biswajit Saha.

Delhi Dynamos FC: Francis Fernandes, Robert Lalthamuana, Naoba Singh, Shylo Malswamtluanga, Shouvik Ghosh, Shouvik Chakraborty and Munmun Lugun.

Team Goa: Laxmikant Kattimani, Debabrata Roy, Gabriel Fernandes, Clifford Miranda, Jewel Raja Shaikh, Alwyn George and Narayan Das.

North East United FC: Kunzang Bhutia, Jibon Singh, Durga Boro, Aibor Khongjee, Zodingliana Ralte, TP Rehnesh and Boithang Haokip.