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FPL tips: How the top managers spend their budget

2020/21 Premier League Preview Package
(Image credit: Laurence Griffiths/NMC Pool)

As millions of people make the final tweaks to their Fantasy Premier League squads ahead of the new season, we’ve taken a look at how last season’s top 1,000 managers spent their budget ahead of gameweek one.

One of the most basic rules of FPL is that you have £100m to spend on 15 players, but the amount of money you have to make decisions with is much smaller.

The cheapest available goalkeepers and defenders cost £4m each while the most affordable midfielders and forwards are £4.5m, meaning that the least you could possibly spend on your squad is £64m.

This leaves just £36m of discretionary spending to make your squad competitive. We’ve looked at how last season’s 1,000 top-performing managers tackled this problem.

Don’t cut corners in midfield

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah during the warm up before the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London

(Glyn Kirk/NMC Pool)

On average, last season’s top managers were unafraid to splash the cash in the middle of the park ahead of the first gameweek of the season, spending more than half of their discretionary £36m fund in midfield.

By comparison, they only tended to allocate £1m of it to goalkeepers, suggesting that few opted for a premium shot-stopper.

A graphic showing the average budget spend of last season's top 1000 Fantasy Premier League managers ahead of gameweek one

They certainly didn’t invest a lot in their fringe players either, preferring to concentrate their investment in their likely starting XI.

Assuming that the cheaper goalkeeper and three cheapest outfield players make up the bench, last season’s top 1,000 managers only spent an average of £1m more than the bare minimum.

Winning combinations

We can take this analysis a step further and look at the most common combination of player prices among last season’s top 1,000 managers ahead of gameweek one.

A graphic showing the most common budget allocations of last season's top 1000 Fantasy Premier League managers in gameweek one

While £5m appears to be the ceiling for a goalkeeper, the top bosses spent premium money on players in every outfield position: two defenders, two midfielders and a forward.

While there is an abundance of cheap defensive options this season, the lesson from last season’s top managers is not to cut too many corners at the back.

The most popular combination included three defenders costing £5.5m or more, suggesting at least one of Liverpool’s back line is a must-have.

There are no £12.5m midfielders this season but there are plenty of premium options with a double-digit price tag such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mohamed Salah.

Up front is arguably the trickiest position in which to emulate last season’s top-performing managers due to the dearth of attractive budget strikers, however.

Chelsea’s Timo Werner (second left) before the pre-season friendly at the AMEX Stadium in Brighton where up to 2500 fans have been allowed in to watch the match after the Government announced a further batch of sporting events that will be used to pilot the safe return of spectators

(Adam Davy/PA)

Popular players like Timo Werner and Dominic Calvert-Lewin fit nicely into the pricier slots but the most-owned forward who costs £5m is Southampton’s Michael Obafemi.

The young Irishman is owned by just 2.8 per cent of managers, which is unsurprising given that his path to the first team is blocked by Danny Ings, Che Adams and Shane Long.

There isn’t much value in dropping down to the £4.5m category either, unless Rhian Brewster secures a move from Liverpool to a club where he stands a better chance of getting minutes.

For managers who don’t want to waste one of their three forward berths, the safest course of action could be to free up £6m by making downgrades elsewhere.