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FPL tips: Elite managers drop wildcards to bring in Salah and Son

Everton v Liverpool – Premier League – Goodison Park
(Image credit: Laurence Griffiths)

With the Fantasy Premier League season in full swing, managers will be wondering how to make use of their first wildcard of the season – so how have the game’s top bosses gone about it?

From our sample of 1,000 managers with multiple top 10,000 finishes to their name, 191 played their wildcard ahead of gameweek five. This is what they did.

A graphic showing the most popular footballers among elite FPL managers who played their wildcard ahead of gameweek five

Marti-party

In goal, it’s no surprise to see Aston Villa new boy Emi Martinez was brought in by 75.9% of our wildcard-playing managers.

The Argentinian could not have hoped for a better start to life in the West Midlands, with three clean sheets, four wins and one penalty save helping Villa win their first four games of the season.

Villa only play one of the traditional ‘big six’ between now and Christmas, so plenty have jumped on the bandwagon with the ex-Arsenal stopper going for just £4.7m currently.

Further forward, Crystal Palace’s Tyrick Mitchell was the most popular elite wildcard pick in defence, with 61.3% of those who played their wildcard making space for the £4.2m man.

Mitchell’s price is the key factor here – although he has scored just 13 FPL points, he has also played 90 minutes five times making him a perfect ‘junk’ defender.

Brighton and Hove Albion’s Tariq Lamptey (left) and Crystal Palace’s Tyrick Mitchell during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London

(Adrian Dennis/PA)

Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey was another wildcard favourite despite questions over his fitness ahead of GW5. At just £4.7m and with three assists so far, the youngster shows promise.

Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell and Liverpool’s Andy Robertson also proved popular as two premium options who look set to cash in on assists as well as the odd clean sheet here or there.

Herd community

But it is in midfield where the most popular players lie.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Tottenham’s Son-Heung min were brought in by 99 per cent and 97.9 per cent of wild card-playing elite bosses.

Salah is the highest-ranked FPL player on the game’s ICT index, and for good reason – the Egyptian has failed to provide attacking returns in just one game, notching six goals and an assist so far for his £12.3m price tag.

Cheaper and arguably more effective, however, is Son, who has notched double figures for points returns on three separate occasions already this season courtesy of seven goals and two assists from midfield.

Three Lions roaring

Up front it is no surprise to see Harry Kane and Dominic Calvert-Lewin transferred in by the elites, with the English pair both on red-hot form.

England’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin (left) and Harry Kane after the UEFA Nations League Group 2, League A match at Wembley Stadium, London

(Ian Walton/PA)

Kane has outrageously secured five goals and seven assists in his last four league games, while at just £7.7m nobody can resist Everton’s Calvert-Lewin, who has scored in every league game so far this season.

But a cheaper option has caught the attention of elites looking to ring the changes – 41.4% of those who played their wildcards decided to offer a spot to Sheffield United new boy Rhian Brewster.

The 20-year-old scored 10 goals in the Championship for Swansea last season, and at £4.5m there are only two forwards cheaper.

Brewster has established forwards such as David McGoldrick and Billy Sharp to contend with, but elite managers will consider the England under-21s striker to have the higher ceiling in terms of potential. If he starts scoring, he might not stop for years.