Fantasy football scout: 5 bargain midfielders under 6.5m to look at
When we originally created our dream fantasy team, using the most expensive players in the game by position, we finished over budget to the tune of £31m. This was not good maths on FFT’s part.
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With the greatest will in the world, no amount of crowdfunding is going to make up that deficit, so we’re going to have to balance our squad with some bargain-bin beauties to come in under the £100m budget.
For this, we’re limiting ourselves to players who cost no more than £6.5m. For context, premium options like Alexis Sanchez and Christian Eriksen come in at £12m and £9.5m respectively.
Again, we’re looking for players who will actually play (well, duh – but it’s not always a rule followed) in addition to providing attacking returns. A player like N’Golo Kante, while ruddy excellent and costing only £5m, is more defensive-minded and won’t be rewarded by the game’s scoring system for haring around like an eight-year-old with a blue Smarties addiction.
1. Tom Ince, Huddersfield (£6.0m)
Ince will feel that now is his time to shine in the Premier League. In between making a handful of top-flight appearances for Hull and Crystal Palace in 2013/14 and 2014/15 he’s racked up 101 starts in the Championship, with an impressive one-in-three goal ratio to boot.
The 25-year-old, at just £6m, packs the potential for good attacking productivity – at Derby he scored 26 goals and carved out another 15 assists over the last two seasons. In pre-season he's made a running start with four goals, and will carry that into 2017/18 with a determination to make his mark at the highest level this time around.
Ince will seemingly slot in on the right of Huddersfield’s attacking trio behind new frontman Steve Mounie. If there’s action in the final third, there’s a good chance he’ll be involved.
2. Matt Ritchie, Newcastle (£6.0m)
Ritchie was a key contributor for the Magpies last season, managing 12 goals and seven assists as they eventually bettered Brighton to win the Championship.
Penalties, free-kicks and corners are all in Ritchie’s repertoire, and last season’s fruitful campaign proved he was no one-season wonder, having plundered 15 goals and added 17 assists in a stellar 2014/15 campaign for Bournemouth.
The 27-year-old surprised some when he dropped down a division to join Newcastle for £12m last summer, but since then he’s become an integral player for Benitez and will go into his second Premier League season in even better shape than his first.
Ritchie scored a cracking free-kick earlier this week against Wolfsburg – perhaps a sign of things to come.
3. Marc Albrighton, Leicester (£5.5m)
Riyad Mahrez remains a Leicester player for now, but it’s still likely that he’ll leave before the summer’s up. The underappreciated Albrighton, meanwhile, has manfully occupied the opposite flank for the last three seasons – and helped consign England U21 starlet Demarai Gray to the bench.
Albrighton remains a key part of the Foxes’ first team, and should still feature regularly despite Gray being told he’ll play more often. He’s no great goalscorer – the 27-year-old has netted twice in the league in each of the last three seasons – but racked up 13 assists across the last two, takes free-kicks, and looks decent value as a fourth or fifth squad pick.
Manchester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho will join imminently, and there’s exciting potential in pairing him up top with Jamie Vardy – two proven goalscorers for Albrighton to aim at.