Without a goal or assist to his name over 30 appearances in the 2010/11 campaign, Benoit Assou-Ekotto was far from prominent in Fantasy managers’ thinking as last term got underway. Hardly renowned for his attacking endeavours, the Tottenham left-back had mustered just one goal and four assists for the London outfit since joining from French club Lens in the 2006/07 season and resultantly started with a 5.0 price tag, 0.5 less than Spurs right-back Kyle Walker:
The Cameroon international begun every one of his side’s first 34 matches before being ruled out for the season with a shoulder injury sustained in the 1-0 defeat at QPR in Gameweek 35. In spite of this, Assou-Ekotto still managed to accrue enough points to finish amongst the top five defenders, just five points behind team mate Walker, with the highlight of his campaign coming in the first double Gameweek of the season. Assou-Ekotto was the stand-out performer of Gameweek 20, with a goal, assist, three bonus points and couple of clean sheets bringing his Fantasy owners a 24 point haul.
The left-back returned a total of 12 clean sheets over his 34 appearances, with seven of those at the Lane and five away from home. Both Assou-Ekotto’s double figure returns came in home matches, however, with an 18 point haul against Everton his highest of the campaign. Finishing on 135 points, he trailed Patrice Evra by 24 points, but proved better overall value, with the United man starting with a 7.0 price tag in comparison.
Working in tandem with Gareth Bale on the Tottenham left flank, Assou-Ekotto had the most eye-catching Fantasy campaign of his career by some distance – he grabbed two goals, five assists and nine bonus points, averaging 4 points per game, slightly better than Walker’s 3.8. A look at the members stats highlights he was more of a threat than the right-back throughout, producing more attempts on goal and creating more goal scoring opportunities than Walker on average.
As the Gameweeks progressed, plenty snapped up his services, with Assou-Ekotto reaching a season-high price of 6.3 before that afore-mentioned shoulder injury saw his price plummet and put paid to what was a highly successful season.
Given his finish amongst the top five defenders and increased attacking threat, it’s fair to say a price hike can be expected. Certainly, a jump of 1.0 to 6.0 looks the most likely, though with his Fantasy appeal at both ends of the pitch, a rise to 6.5 (Bacary Sagna’s starting price last term, for example) may not be beyond the realms of possibility when Fantasy Premier League (FPL) release the player lists in a couple of months’ time.
With Walker surely to be similarly priced, it may well leave Younes Kaboul as the best route into Redknapp’s backline, with Ledley King, Michael Dawson and William Gallas all too often blighted by injury. Fantasy managers could well overlook the Cameroon international, then, and while the likes of Swansea and Newcastle can expect a price increase, it’s likely that defensive options from both clubs will still cost less than Assou-Ekotto – given the pair produced more clean sheets than Tottenham last time out, the left-back looks likely to struggle to garner the same levels of attention.
It remains to be seen whether last term’s returns were a glimpse of what’s to come or just a one-off, though with Harry Redknapp somewhat reluctant to rotate his full-backs, Assou-Ekotto’s security of starts will at least be beneficial. While a mid-price valuation worked in his favour last time out, Fantasy managers willing to pay top dollar for an attacking defensive option next season may well look to more proven performers such as Thomas Vermaelen or Leighton Baines, despite the fact that both will come at a higher cost.