Our series of summer articles focusing on those players who head into the new season bearing the weight of expectation from Fantasy Football managers begins this morning.
Manchester City’s Leroy Sane – one of a cast of high quality attacking assets in Pep Guardiola’s squad – is the first player nominated and assessed.
Snapped up from German side Schalke 04 for a reported £37m last summer, Sane initially struggled to make his mark in Guardiola’s first season in charge.
The 20-year-old arrived on the back of eight goals and six assists in his final campaign in the Bundesliga, but was eased into action by his new manager, with just four starts and five sub appearances in the opening 21 rounds of fixtures.
Sane served up a single goal and assist over that period, while team-mate Raheem Sterling produced five goals and seven assists. That ensured Sane began as a peripheral figure across the Fantasy games, dropping in price in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) from £8.0m to £7.5m.
But a chastening 4-0 loss at Everton in Gameweek 21 changed Guardiola’s thinking. From that point onwards, Sane established himself as a regular fixture on the City left flank and was named in the first XI in 16 of the final 17 Gameweeks.
With security of pitch-time, the winger became increasingly influential in the final third and proceeded to deliver a further four goals and six assists, producing FPL returns on nine of those 17 occasions.
There is every reason to anticipate an even bigger impact in 2017/18.
- Delving deeper into Sane’s FPL output over those final few months looks encouraging. In nine appearances between Gameweek 1-21, he delivered a mere 24 points – averaging 2.7 points per match (ppm). Yet from Gameweek 22 onwards, it was a different story altogether – 81 points from 17 outings equates to a far more respectable 4.8 ppm and hints at what’s to come next time around.
- Despite that encouraging finish to the previous season, Sane ended his first year at the Etihad Stadium with just 108 FPL points. A significant price rise is certainly not anticipated as a result, and should ensure that he continues as a mid-price option for our FPL squads around the same 8.0-mark. With Kevin De Bruyne expected to remain in the premium midfield bracket and Gabriel Jesus vying with Sergio Aguero for our three-man frontlines, the German international could offer the best value route into Guardiola’s attack.
- The underlying Opta statistics also point towards an increase in output. From Gameweek 22 onwards, Sane registered more touches in the opposition box (122) than any FPL midfielder and was on a par with Chelsea’s big-hitting Eden Hazard for both shots (28) and efforts on target (11). Meanwhile, his 26 efforts in the opposition penalty area was fifth for FPL midfielders and second only to Aguero’s 50 for City during that end-of-season run.
- While Sane will always likely be overshadowed in the FPL’s Bonus Points System by the likes of De Bruyne, his debut season statistics suggested that he will remain a stronger option than Sterling in this respect. Sane certainly retained possession more often, with Sterling suffering heavily from BPS penalties via the “Tackled” metric. Sterling succeeded with 53% of his “take-ons” and was “tackled” every 17 minutes compared with Sane’s 60.9% success rate, losing possession every 20.4 minutes.
- Sane should be fully refreshed for the new season after being ruled out of Germany’s Confederations Cup exertions due to nose surgery. An extended break should help, then, particularly at a time when the likes of Jesus could miss some of the pre-season preparations after sustaining a fractured eye socket while on international duty with Brazil. Although Sterling could also remain as a mid-price factor, the England star seemed to fall out of favour as last season unfolded and started just six of their final 12 league matches.
- City’s opening set of fixtures certainly look conducive to Fantasy investment as Guardiola attempts to get off to a flier. Trips to Brighton, Bournemouth and Watford, allied with visits from Everton, Liverpool and Crystal Palace, suggest that many will be looking to invest in their main attacking targets from the off. And the stats show just why – they produced more big chances and shots in the box than any other side last season on their way to netting 80 times.