Fantasy managers will face a tough decision if they are opting for only one Liverpool midfielder in 2019/20 as Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are now considerably closer in price.
The Egyptian has dropped to £12.5m while his team-mate, who shared the Golden Boot with Salah in 2018/19, has risen to £11.5m.
Raheem Sterling dissects the Liverpool duo after being handed a starting price of £12.0m.
Our latest article concentrates on premium midfielders, which includes Fantasy assets listed at £8.0m and above for the purposes of this piece.
The four highest-scoring players in FPL last season – Salah, Sterling, Mane and Eden Hazard – were premium midfielders and many Fantasy managers will likely be looking at two or more of these options in their 2019/20 squads.
A Baker’s Dozen
Only 13 midfielders fall into this price bracket at the time of writing, one fewer than there were upon the launch of FPL in 2018/19.
Hazard has departed the Premier League for the Bernabeu, while David Silva (£7.5m), Mesut Ozil (£7.5m) and Alexis Sanchez (£7.0m) all lose their premium midfielder tag.
In their place come Bernardo Silva, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison, all of whom are priced up at £8.0m.
The Big Three
Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) remains not only the most expensive midfielder in the game but the costliest asset overall.
The gap between Salah and the chasing pack has narrowed, however.
Sadio Mane (£11.5m) has risen £2.0m from his starting price in 2018/19 while Raheem Sterling (£12.0m) is up by £1.0m on his price 12 months ago.
Salah’s starting price has decreased by £0.5m this season, despite the Egypt international having topped the FPL points list for the second year in a row.
Had Salah, Mane and Sterling cost these new prices in 2018/19, their value for money (based on points per million spent – PPMS) would have been as follows:
|Player||18/19 Points||18/19 End Price||18/19 Value (PPMS)||19/20 Price||19/20 Value (PPMS)|
Sterling made fewer appearances (34) than Mane (36) and Salah (38), though, and led the way for points per match:
|Player||18/19 Points per Match|
Sterling also has the advantage of having a restful summer, following his exertions for England in the UEFA Nations League in early June.
Salah and Mane, by contrast, will be competing in the Africa Cup of Nations – a tournament that finishes exactly three weeks before Liverpool take on Norwich City in the Gameweek 1 opener.
You can read more about their 2018/19 seasons in the three articles below:
Three to Monitor at £9.5m
Salah, Sterling and Mane are the only midfielders that will set Fantasy managers back more than £10.0m this season.
On top of Hazard’s departure and Sanchez’s demotion to a mid-price midfielder, Kevin De Bruyne (£9.5m) has dropped out of the £10.0m+ bracket.
The Belgium international had an injury-ravaged season, playing only 976 minutes of Premier League football and starting in just 11 of his 19 appearances.
De Bruyne banked only two goals and three assists, having had five separate spells on the sidelines with injuries of varying severity.
If he can stay fit, the Belgian midfielder could prove to be a relative bargain: De Bruyne racked up a combined 53 attacking returns (14 goals, 39 assists) in FPL in 2016/17 and 2017/18.
Team-mate Leroy Sané remains at £9.5m but there may be less interest in the Germany international than there will be in De Bruyne.
Sané continues to be linked with a move to Bayern Munich but even if he stays in Manchester, there would be some doubt as to his surety of starts given that he started only three of City’s final ten league fixtures.
The German winger was only a substitute for the first four Gameweeks of 2018/19 before an injury to Benjamin Mendy (£6.0m) paved the way for his return to Pep Guardiola’s starting XI, with the City boss desiring width down the left flank.
Sané racked up 121 points between Gameweeks 5 and 23. When he started a Premier League match during this time, he averaged 7.9 points per game.
Son Heung-min has seen off a positional reclassification but has been handed a price rise – the South Korea international is the third and final midfielder who will initially cost £9.5m next season.
Son won’t feature in many Gameweek 1 squads, with two matches of a three-game ban still to serve, but the Spurs midfielder is one to monitor from Gameweek 3 onwards.
An “out of position” tag is a very real possibility again this season, given that Son was frequently chosen as one of the two attackers in Mauricio Pochettino’s 4-4-2 diamond or 3-4-1-2.
Pochettino largely favoured the diamond formation from Gameweeks 13 to 22, a rare period in which all four of Son, Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen were fit and firing.
Son scored eight goals and registered four assists in these ten matches, generally playing alongside Kane in attack and indeed often in advance of the roaming England striker.
Should that become Pochettino’s go-to formation – the Spurs boss has been tricky to pin down to one system this season – then Son could well re-enter the Fantasy radar despite the price hike.
Kane being available for only £1.5m more, of course, might be a game-changer (the difference between the two Spurs players was £4.0m in 2018/19).
Cheaper Spurs alternatives
There are more budget-friendly alternatives to Son at Spurs, however.
Christian Eriksen (£9.0m) and Dele Alli (£8.5m) have both fallen £0.5m in price after their least productive seasons since 2014/15.
Eriksen has been linked with a move away from north London this summer, with Real Madrid said to be circling.
If Eriksen stays with the Lilywhites, he is not without appeal: the Denmark international was among the top eight midfielders for both shots on goal and chances created, while he was a nailed pick in the final 21 Gameweeks of the season, playing all bar seven minutes.
In his “worst” season in four years, he still recorded 20 attacking returns.
His deep starting position in the final four matches of the season was a slight worry, a concern that was also applicable to Alli during the season.
The former MK Dons prospect was sporadically used by Pochettino further back, continuing his evolution as a more deep-lying central midfielder.
We saw glimpses of Alli as a “number ten” or attacking midfielder in the final few weeks of the season, however, and if he can nail down such a role in 2019/20 then he will become an attractive option at £8.5m.
Four of Alli’s five goals came in Gameweeks 13 to 23, when Pochettino largely favoured a 4-4-2 diamond with Alli at the tip of it.
Questionable appeal at £8.5m
Alongside Alli, Paul Pogba and Riyad Mahrez are the other two midfielders available at £8.5m.
For obvious reasons, we won’t delve too deeply into either option at this stage.
Pogba might be set for a summer exit after recently hinting that he would like a new challenge.
After bursting into life with 14 returns in his first nine starts under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Pogba averaged exactly three FPL points per match in his final 12 appearances and blanked in ten of them.
Should the France international stay at Old Trafford, we will assess his credentials in detail later in the summer.
Mahrez, like Sané, would be a very attractive (and cheaper) alternative to Sterling should he nail down a place in Guardiola’s starting XI but there has been little sign of that in 2018/19.
The Algerian has started just four Premier League matches this calendar year.
Mahrez will also be on duty with his national team at the Africa Cup of Nations this summer, which will disrupt his pre-season at City.
As mentioned above, Sigurdsson, Richarlison and Bernardo Silva have all risen to the £8.0m mark.
We are including this trio as part of our premium midfielders analysis but the price range is disputed territory and some may group these players at the top-end of the mid-price bracket.
Whatever the definition, all three go into 2019/20 off the back of their most successful seasons in FPL.
Bernardo, Richarlison and Sigurdsson registered 15, 16 and 19 attacking returns respectively in 2018/19.
Everton’s Icelandic number ten indeed was the fifth-highest scoring midfielder in FPL behind Salah, Hazard, Sterling and Mane.
Sigurdsson ranked ninth among players in his position for points per match (4.79), too.
Richarlison matched his team-mate for goals scored (13) in 2018/19 although he recorded only five attacking returns in the second half of the season.
The Brazilian tends to start the season with a bang, though, and has recorded 11 attacking returns in the opening 19 Gameweeks of each of the last two campaigns.
Salah and Hazard were the only midfielders who had scored more goals than Richarlison (nine) at the halfway stage of last season.
While Everton’s opening run of fixtures isn’t all plain sailing, the Toffees sit top of our Season Ticker for the first ten Gameweeks of 2019/20 and there will be plenty of managers interested in players from Marco Silva’s side.
Given that they are both priced up at £8.0m, we’ll run a direct comparison between Sigurdsson and Richarlison in a Members’ article that will be published shortly.
Bernardo is the fifth-cheapest midfield option for Manchester City but arguably one of the more “nailed” picks on Pep Guardiola’s teamsheet, based on the evidence of last season.
No City midfielder made more Premier League starts than Bernardo (31), with Guardiola repeatedly singing the praises of the Portugal international, from his pre-season declaration of “it’s Bernardo and ten others” to his comments about the midfield playmaker being undroppable at the back-end of 2018/19.
We also saw the Portuguese midfielder playing in a more advanced role this calendar year, with eight of his final 11 starts coming on the right of the front three.
For all his undoubted brilliance, attacking returns remain an issue.
Sané outscored Bernardo despite playing almost exactly 1,000 fewer minutes.
Despite being chiefly deployed alongside Aguero and Sterling, he recorded only four attacking returns in the final 17 Gameweeks.
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