Fantasy football scout: 5 bargain midfielders under £6.5m
Previously in this series, we’ve looked at cheap defenders up for consideration in your fantasy football squads.
To labour an obvious point, we created a team using the most expensive players in the game by position and finished over budget to the tune of £32.5m. No amount of crowdfunding is going to make up that deficit, so we’re going to have to balance our squad with a distinct blend of premium and bargain players to come in under the £100m budget.
For midfielders, we’ve set a limit of £6.5m to qualify in the bargain bracket. With premium options such as Mo Salah or Raheem Sterling coming in at £13m and £11m respectively, you need to find a balance somewhere.
We’re looking for players who will a) actually play and b) provide attacking returns. Keep in mind that during Leicester’s unbelievable title charge, Riyad Mahrez would have fallen into this category. Last season we saw Brighton’s Pascal Gross provide excellent value at £5.5m, but the boffins at FPL towers have inflated the German’s price to £7.0m this year.
So without further ado, here are five midfielders who can supplement your premium picks and help keep you under budget.
1. Richarlison, Everton (£6.5m)
Richarlison has seen his price hiked but still falls into our budget bracket. The young Brazilian made an impressive start to his Premier League career under Marco Silva at Watford but struggled after the Portuguese’s departure and didn’t register a goal or assist from December 16 onwards.
The 21-year-old came to the Premier League as a relative unknown, and as such may have caught a few teams out with his advanced position on the pitch. Some fantasy players will be put off by his weaker second half of the campaign, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that he actually started his season with Fluminense back in mid-May.
With a proper summer break and pre-season behind him, there’s a sense that Richarlison can increase his tally of five goals and eight assists from 2017/18. Given the amount of goalscoring positions he gets into, the Brazilian should be aiming to double his goal tally this season.
2. Diogo Jota, Wolves (£6.5m)
One of the most satisfying aspects of fantasy football is getting it right – never more so than when you stumble across one of the Holy Grails of the game: an out-of-position player (OOP).
An OOP is typically – but not always – an attack-minded midfielder who is deployed so far upfield that he’s essentially a forward. If you’ve been playing this game for a number of years, there’s a strong chance you’ll have fond memories of Gareth Bale being listed as a defender in his Spurs days. Last season, Wilfried Zaha pressed forward so much that FPL has categorised him as a forward this year.
Wolves’ Jota is another in this mould – the former Atletico Madrid man managed 17 goals last year as his team topped the Championship. Nuno’s team are expected to catch a number of opposition sides cold this season, and Jota could thrive with the likes of Ruben Neves (£5.0m) and Helder Costa (£5.5m) providing ammunition.
3. Tom Cairney, Fulham (£5.0m)
With bargains in mind, it’s important we shoehorn in a player who comes in at £5.0m or less.
Cairney was excellent as Fulham made their way back to the Premier League, dictating the pace in midfield but also chipping in with six goals and five assists. In 2016/17, the Scotland international managed 13 goals and 10 assists for the Cottagers.
The 27-year-old has averaged nine goals over the last three seasons and been a reliable source of assists too. It isn’t realistic to expect that Cairney will replicate such form in the top flight, but he’s a good alternative to the highly rated Ryan Sessegnon.
Sessegnon is priced at £6.5m, but it’s the savings Cairney provides – in addition to the lower ownership (almost four times less than Sessegnon) – that make him a strong contender as a fourth or fifth midfield pick for your team.
4. Pedro, Chelsea (£6.5m)
How will new boss Maurizio Sarri line up his players for the new season? That’s a question boggling minds at this point.
With a number of players late back after the World Cup, and rumours continuing to link Willian away from the club, Pedro is expected to pick up minutes in the opening gameweeks.
Sarri has long favoured a 4-3-3, which should give Pedro an opportunity to be deployed up top and cut in from the right. At £6.5m, the Spaniard and compatriot Cesc Fabregas (who’s spent much of his summer hanging out with Gary Lineker, getting hitched and celebrating in Ibiza) offer fine FPL value – if they get the starts – but Pedro gets the nod on expected playing time.
5. Mohamed Elyounoussi, Southampton (£6.5m)
Dusan Tadic was up there for the most frustrating players to own in fantasy football. While the Serbian was clearly very capable of chipping in with goals and assists, he also had a more regular habit of disappearing like your mate when it’s their round.
Saints manager Mark Hughes has looked to address this by shipping out Tadic to Ajax and signing Norway’s Mohamed Elyounoussi from Basel for a reported £16m.
Hughes has already commented on Elyounoussi’s strong record of goals and assists at his former clubs, and the new man will be expected to do the same in this goal-shy side. The 23-year-old managed 24 goals in two seasons (84 matches) for Basel, and has four in 16 games for Norway so far.
Elyounoussi performed well in the Champions League last season, contributing goals against Benfica and Manchester City, and Hughes will be hoping for big things of his intriguing new attacker.
This is a genuinely tough category to limit to five picks. Other notable mentions go to Crystal Palace’s Luka Milivojevic (£6.5m), who made this list last season priced at £4.5m and repaid his fantasy owners with 10 goals.
Elsewhere, Manchester United’s Juan Mata (£6.5m) is a long-time Premier League favourite. If he was a nailed-on starter there could be huge value in the Spaniard, but it will ultimately boil down to who Jose Mourinho has available to him. Expect to see Mata start the season depending on the return to training of United’s World Cup participants.
Finally, there has been a lot of talk about Newcastle’s Kenedy, who starts the season priced at £5.0m. The Chelsea man has been loaned back to Tyneside after impressing last season, and is well placed to do so again this term. If Newcastle hadn’t been hit with such a terrible start by the Fixture Gods, he’d have made this list: the Magpies face Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal in their opening five games.
FantasyYIRMA started in 2012, focused on FPL news and previews. After coverage across 228 gameweeks, we are confident we could have been well on our way to becoming a qualified astronaut had the time been spent more productively