Pre-Season

Zaha among the most appealing mid-price FPL midfield options

With price hikes for the likes of Sergio Aguero (£12.0m), Raheem Sterling (£12.0m), Sadio Mane (£11.5m), Andrew Robertson (£7.0m) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.0m), Fantasy managers may well be forced to make more use of the mid-price market in 2019/20.

There may well be one or two midfielders to interest FPL bosses in the £6.0m-£7.5m price bracket, with positional reclassifications for Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m) and Ayoze Perez (£6.5m) and price drops for the likes of David Silva (£7.5m).

Our latest price list analysis article, then, focuses on mid-price midfielders.

There are currently 51 FPL midfielders whose prices are between £6.0m and £7.5m inclusive, though we’ll expect more to be added over the summer as clubs delve into the transfer market.

Changing Position

Ayoze Perez could well gain an ‘out of position’ tag next season

As we mentioned in our intro, Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m) and Ayoze Perez (£6.5m) have been reclassified as FPL midfielders this season.

Whether either player will be at their current club come Gameweek 1 is open to question, with both linked with moves away from their respective sides.

Zaha’s future has long been a topic of discussion, while Perez’s apparent desire to leave the north-east may have been hastened by Rafael Benitez’s departure.

Whether a move to a ‘bigger’ club would be beneficial for either asset from a Fantasy perspective remains open to debate: the possibility of more attacking returns may well increase but security of starts could be an issue, depending on the destination.

Perez may not even be a Premier League player come August, with Valencia said to be circling.

If Perez stays at Newcastle (and that is a big ‘if’), there is even the chance he could be “out of position” come Gameweek 1.

Benitez used a 3-4-2-1/5-4-1 from Gameweek 13 onwards, with Perez and one of Christian Atsu (£5.5m) or Miguel Almiron (£6.0m) in the support roles behind Salomon Rondon in possession (3-4-2-1) and moving over to the wide areas when Newcastle were defending (5-4-1).

That succession of starts further back have led to the FPL position change, although whoever takes over from Benitez may have different ideas about the Magpies’ formation and reinstate Perez in a two-man attack (the Spaniard has always been more of a support striker than an out-and-out centre-forward, however).

Perez has registered 14 attacking returns in each of the last two campaigns and would have been among the top ten highest-scoring FPL midfielders of last season had his position change happened 12 months ago.

A move away from Selhurst Park this summer could be in the offing for Wilfried Zaha

After five years as an FPL midfielder, Zaha was reclassified as a forward at the start of last season.

The relaunch of the game has seen the Ivory Coast international back in his original position.

Zaha featured in a front two for much of the first half of 2018/19 but was used predominantly on the flank this calendar year as Roy Hodgson switched to a 4-3-3 from a 4-4-2.

The Ivorian was thrown back into a front two in three of Palace’s final four fixtures, so an ‘out of position’ tag could well be his again should he stay at Selhurst Park.

Again, Zaha would have been been among the top ten highest-scoring FPL midfielders of 2018/19 had the position shift not happened.

It’ll be interesting to see what effect VAR has on the Palace winger, wherever he ends up, given that ‘Fantasy assists’ are a big part of his game: Zaha has won ten penalties over the last two seasons, more than any other Premier League player.

‘Big Six’ Options

There are, at the time of writing, 20 players who represent a ‘big six’ club who are priced in the £6.0m-£7.5m bracket.

Liverpool
Xherdan Shaqiri didn’t start any of Liverpool’s last 14 league games

There are four Liverpool players in this range, three of whom have fallen in price and none of whom are guaranteed regular starts next season.

Naby Keita (£6.0m) stands perhaps the best chance of a sustained run in the Reds’ starting XI, having shown a steady improvement in form in the second half of the campaign and having established himself in the Liverpool starting XI in Gameweeks 33-36 before injury ended his campaign.

The fact that he never strung together more than four league starts is an obvious drawback, while there were only three attacking returns all year – not numbers to get excited about in FPL.

Keita has reportedly picked up a thigh injury playing for Guinea at the Africa Cup of Nations, so we’ll be monitoring that situation in the coming weeks.

The return to fitness of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£6.5m) adds to Klopp’s wealth of options and his comeback is worth noting, following an injury-ravaged 2018/19 in which he made just two substitute appearances.

Adam Lallana (£6.0m) made only five starts last season, while Xherdan Shaqiri (£6.5m) didn’t make Klopp’s starting XI from Gameweek 25 onwards.

The Switzerland international had banked ten attacking returns in 11 starts before that point but was mostly overlooked in favour of Divock Origi (£5.5m) and Daniel Sturridge in the season run-in when the Liverpool boss turned to reinforcements in attack.

With Salah and Mane expected back late from the Africa Cup of Nations, there is a slight chance of a rare outing for Shaqiri in Gameweek 1 – but many Fantasy managers will be passing on him and the three other players mentioned above given the plethora of premium Liverpool options to choose from.

Manchester City
David Silva matched Bernardo Silva for points per match (4.3) last season

Despite racking up 143 points last season, David Silva (£7.5m) has dropped in price by one million ahead of his final year with Manchester City.

The reduction is perhaps a reflection of his advanced years (“El Mago” turns 34 in January) and there were signs last season that his powers were on the wane slightly.

Sterling (16) was the only Manchester City midfielder who started more games than Silva (15) in the second half of last season but injuries to Kevin De Bruyne (£9.5m) and Fernandinho (£5.5m) perhaps forced Pep Guardiola’s hand in that regard, with Ilkay Gundogan (£5.5m) instead used as the defensive shield rather than job-sharing with Silva.

Gundogan and Fernandinho aside, Silva had the worst minutes-per-chance rate among City’s midfielders and hasn’t scored a league goal in 2019 – though did find the back of the net on six occasions earlier in the campaign.

The veteran Spaniard was still a creative force and finished fourth among FPL midfielders for expected assists (xA).

With Bernardo available for £0.5m more and likely assured of more starts, the elder Silva’s ownership might still be low despite the price reduction.

Chelsea
Willian may benefit from Eden Hazard’s departure in the opening weeks of 2019/20

Fantasy managers were treated to a strange sight upon the release of the FPL price list: not a single Chelsea asset cost more than £7.0m.

There are five Blues’ midfielders in the £6.0m-£7.0m bracket, two of whom are fighting back from injury: Callum Hudson-Odoi (£6.0m) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£6.5m).

Loftus-Cheek is unlikely to be fit for the start of 2019/20 but Hudson-Odoi is further along in his recovery and may well feature in his new manager’s plans come Gameweek 1.

Hudson-Odoi’s availability (or lack thereof) could influence our thoughts on Willian (£7.0m).

With Eden Hazard having departed for the Bernabeu, it may well be a straight fight between Willian and Hudson-Odoi for the role on the left flank.

Willian had the joint-best rate of chances created among first-choice FPL midfielders last season and, with Hazard gone, the Brazilian may well be even more involved at corners and free-kicks.

Pedro (£7.0m) will likely have Christian Pulisic to compete with on the opposite flank and the competition for places on the wings may well see many FPL managers biding their time to see who gets the nod ahead of some appealing fixtures from Gameweek 3 onwards.

It’ll be interesting to see if the new Chelsea boss can kickstart Ross Barkley‘s (£6.0m) career and his Fantasy appeal.

The former Everton prospect never strung together more than two successive league starts last season as Maurizio Sarri regularly rotated in Barkley’s position.

The England international is without a league goal since last October and ended up at £5.0m in Gameweek 38 of 2018/19, having dropped a full £1.0m from his starting price.

Tottenham Hotspur
Lucas Moura may be again paired with Harry Kane in Gameweek 1

Erik Lamela (£6.0m) hasn’t played more than 1,000 league minutes in a single season for Spurs since 2015/16 and there seems little prospect of the injury-plagued Argentinean winger attracting Fantasy investment in the coming months, barring some eye-opening form in pre-season.

Son Heung-min‘s (£9.5m) suspension may mean that Lucas Moura (£7.5m) starts for the Lilywhites in Gameweeks 1 and 2, however, with the Brazilian a potential early-season “out of position” asset should Mauricio Pochettino look to adopt a two-man frontline.

Beyond that, the usual concerns about security of starts will persist: Lucas was named on the bench on 11 occasions last season.

What Pochettino does in the transfer market this summer may add to the competition for places in attack, while Son will not be the same fatigued player that allowed Lucas an extended run in the first team in the opening months of 2018/19.

READ MORE: The effect of Son and Lucas on Harry Kane

Arsenal
Mesut Ozil failed to break the 100-point mark in FPL for the first time last sason

Mesut Ozil (£7.5m) is available for his lowest-ever FPL price off the back of his worst Premier League season for attacking returns.

The German playmaker’s total of 89 FPL points was his lowest in six years at the Emirates, with five goals and three assists all he could muster.

This was a player, remember, who banked 25 attacking returns and reached the 200-point mark in 2015/16.

Ozil was perhaps even lucky to hit the back of the net on five occasions in the season just gone, having had only 11 shots all season – his goal conversion rate of 54.4% thus the best among all FPL midfielders in 2018/19.

Niggling injuries and mystery ailments continued to plague Ozil throughout the season, while he was also a frequent victim of Unai Emery’s regular rotation: Ozil didn’t string together more than four consecutive league starts all year.

A lack of security of starts also applies to Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£7.0m) and Alex Iwobi (£6.0m) and is the primary reason why many FPL managers will overlook Arsenal’s mid-price midfield assets, despite their budget-friendly appeal.

Mkhitaryan had the best points-per-match average (3.9) among Arsenal midfielders but again, four successive league starts was the best the Armenia captain could muster in 2018/19.

Iwobi banked a respectable eight assists and actually only missed three of the Gunners’ league games all season (two through illness), with the Nigerian winger appearing in every match from Gameweek 6 onwards.

However, 13 of his 35 appearances came as a substitute and four consecutive starts was the best he could manage, too.

Iwobi only completed 90 minutes on seven occasions.

Manchester United
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring his only league goal of 2018/19

Daniel James (£6.0m) is one of five Manchester United midfielders available in the £6.0m-£7.5m bracket.

You can read more on the young winger in our Scout Report.

James predominantly played on the left flank at Swansea City so Anthony Martial (£7.5m) is the obvious obstacle he has to overcome in order to nail down that position, although the Frenchman could feasibly be redeployed centrally depending on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s choice of formation.

Martial was something of an anomaly at United last season in that his purple patch of form arrived when Jose Mourinho was still at the helm: the France international scoring seven of his ten league goals under his former manager.

Three goals and three assists under Solskjaer was a modest return, with five of his run-outs coming off the bench and only two of his nine starts seeing him last the full 90 minutes.

There were also reportedly question marks over Martial’s attitude towards the end of the campaign, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on his involvement in pre-season as we assess his worth as a mid-price midfielder.

Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata (both £6.5m) are cheaper options but neither of whom passed 80 points in FPL last season or have done a great deal recently to warrant much attention from Fantasy managers this summer.

Alexis Sanchez (£7.0m) is an intriguing prospect, with his starting price having fallen £3.5m from 12 months ago.

The Chile international has never been available for less than £10.0m in FPL before but there was good cause for his demotion from ‘premium Fantasy asset’ status, following his worst-ever season in FPL (a total of 47 points being less than a third of his previous least-productive campaign).

Sanchez only made nine starts all year, with just four coming under Solskjaer.

The former Arsenal winger’s powers have been on the wane for some time, it seems, but his form has picked up for Chile – as it so often does – at the Copa America this summer and it will be interesting to see whether he can force himself back into Solskjaer’s thinking, especially with James and Martial providing stiff competition on the left.

United’s opening two fixtures are slightly off-putting anyhow, so we can perhaps use the matches against Chelsea and Wolves as a way of assessing if the Red Devils’ mid-price midfield options are worthy of consideration beyond that point.

Promoted Players

Jack Grealish currently sits in over 10% of FPL squads

There are five midfielders currently available for £6.0m-£6.5m who will be representing a newly promoted club: three from Aston Villa, two from Norwich City.

Jack Grealish and Conor Hourihane (both £6.0m) were heavily involved at dead-ball situations last season, with Hourihane providing more assists than any of his teammates (11).

Grealish, who himself banked seven assists, had a better minutes-per-chance created average (38.4) than any of his colleagues.

You can read more about these two players in our guide to Aston Villa’s attacking assets.

Jota (£6.0m), meanwhile, arrived at Villa this summer having played for cross-city rivals Birmingham in 2018/19.

The former Brentford winger recorded 11 assists last season, while only eight Championship players registered more key passes.

READ MORE: Scout Report on Jota

Mario Vrancic (£6.5m) and Emiliano Buendia (£6.0m) are the two Norwich assets hoping to be more Diogo Jota than Ryan Sessegnon this season, having been priced up in the mid-price bracket.

Buendia was directly involved in 20 goals last season and no Norwich player created more chances (91) than him in 2018/19, with his role at set plays bolstering that statistic.

Vrancic will likely not have too many takers, given that Teemu Pukki (£6.5m) can be acquired for the same price.

Vrancic was involved in 17 goals for the Canaries last season but 22 of his 36 appearances came off the bench and he is generally deployed deeper in central midfield.

Our guide to Norwich’s attacking assets has more on these two players.

On the rise

No player has risen in price more than Ryan Fraser this season

There are several names in the mid-price bracket who have been handed price rises from last season.

Ryan Fraser‘s (£7.5m) starting price has increased by £2.0m following a superb 2018/19.

A total of 21 attacking returns (seven goals, 14 assists) couldn’t be bettered by any FPL midfielder with a starting price under £8.0m last season and he was by some distance the best-value player in his position based on points per million spent (28.3).

Fraser was ranked third for key passes, while no player could match his total for big chances created.

All but one of the Scottish midfielder’s returns came in matches against non-big six sides, which could be significant given that Bournemouth face only Manchester City of these elite clubs in the first seven Gameweeks.

READ MORE: The story of Ryan Fraser’s 2018/19 season

David Brooks (£6.5m) – who banked 13 attacking returns last season – is a cheaper route into the Cherries’ midfield but he too has been handed a steep price rise, so the extra £1.0m for Fraser might well be something FPL managers readily swallow should they seek out a Bournemouth asset.

Fraser, indeed, ended 2018/19 £1.4m more expensive than Brooks.

James Maddison (£7.0m) had a largely successful debut Premier League campaign and no player in the English top flight created more chances than the Leicester man.

While the Foxes’ opening eight fixtures are among the worst in the division, Leicester were one of the form sides at the back-end of 2018/19 as Brendan Rodgers hit the ground running following his move from Celtic.

Only three sides scored more goals than Leicester in the ten Gameweeks that Rodgers was at the helm for.

Harvey Barnes (£6.0m) has also had a moderate rise in price but a security of starts could be an issue given that Marc Albrighton (£5.5m) ate into his pitch-time towards the end of last season after returning from injury.

Barnes was fairly wasteful in front of goal, too, scoring from just one of 40 attempts.

Luka Milivojevic converted ten penalties in 2018/19

Luka Milivojevic joins Maddison in the £7.0m bracket after again hitting double figures for goals in a single season.

The Palace penalty-taker’s appeal may well hinge on where Zaha will be plying his trade next season, given that the Ivory Coast international has won ten spot-kicks over the last two years.

Nineteen of the Serbian defensive midfielder’s 24 goals for Palace have been from the spot, although Milivojevic does at least offer additional goal and assist potential from free-kicks and corners.

Nathan Redmond (£6.5m) has seen off a positional reclassification but, as expected, has had his starting price increased.

The “out of position” run-outs might be fewer next season given than Che Adams and Danny Ings (£6.0m) have been snapped up on permanent deals, although an attacking midfield role still beckons should Ralph Hasenhuttl proceed with his favoured 4-2-2-2.

All 11 of Redmond’s attacking returns last season arrived after the Austrian first took charge in Gameweek 16.

James Ward-Prowse (£6.0m), whose seven goals again all came after the appointment of Hasenhuttl, has also risen in price but we’ll have to bide our time to see how the Southampton head coach’s possible tactical changes impact on the England midfielder.

A taker of corners and free-kicks, Ward-Prowse created 46 chances last season without registering a single assist.

Dwight McNeil (£6.0m) is no longer the budget gem of last season, either.

McNeil started all but one of Burnley’s final 19 league games, registering three goals and four assists while being available for £4.4m.

The price hike will likely be a deterrent to many, though, and the Clarets rank bottom of our Season Ticker in Gameweeks 1 to 4.

The Rest

Felipe Anderson’s form dipped in 2019

Five of the remaining 16 midfielders in this bracket are on West Ham’s books.

New signing Pablo Fornals (£6.5m) is a player we scouted in a recent article and adds to the stiff competition for places in the Hammers’ midfield.

Fornals, Felipe Anderson (£7.0m), Michail Antonio (£7.0m), Andriy Yarmolenko (£6.5m) and Manuel Lanzini (£6.5m) will be among those tussling for three or four attacking midfield spots, while further down the price list there are Robert Snodgrass (£5.5m), Jack Wilshere (£5.0m) and Grady Diangana (£4.5m).

The sheer numbers available to Manuel Pellegrini will be enough to deter many FPL managers, although it should be said that Anderson was as good as nailed last season in starting 36 of West Ham’s 38 league matches.

No West Ham player banked more attacking returns than the Brazilian in 2018/19 (15), although only four of those arrived this calendar year.

Bernard and Theo Walcott (£6.5m) won’t tempt many Fantasy managers despite Everton’s favourable early run of fixtures and Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison (both £8.0m) having been handed price rises.

Bernard banked only five attacking returns last season, while Walcott started just one match in the final nine Gameweeks.

Newcastle’s bleak-looking run of fixtures and Rafael Benitez’s departure may hurt Miguel Almiron‘s (£6.0m) early-season Fantasy prospects, with the Paraguay international still yet to open his account for the Magpies.

Appealing matches is something Brighton can offer in the first six Gameweeks but there is still a lot unknown about the Seagulls after Graham Potter’s appointment.

The former Swansea City boss is a more attack-minded manager than his predecessor, which could bode well for the likes of Pascal Gross (£6.5m), Leandro Trossard (£6.0m) and Alireza Jahanabakhsh (£6.0m) – though there’ll be few takers in the Iranian after he finished 2018/19 without any attacking returns.

Trossard’s appeal we discussed in a recent Scout Report, while set-piece specialist Gross could be an interesting prospect under a head coach with more offensive ambition – the German playmaker created a chance every 35 minutes last season despite Brighton’s anaemia in attack.

Elsewhere, Junior Stanislas (£6.0m) is still recovering from a knee injury and Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£6.0m) lost his place to Jeff Hendrick (£5.5m) on the Burnley right flank in the second half of last season.

Andros Townsend (£6.0m), who has banked at least ten attacking returns in each of his last three seasons, looks set to be largely overlooked again thanks to Zaha’s reclassification as a Palace midfielder and Milivojevic’s role at penalties – although a move away for the Ivory Coast international could still be in the offing.

Last but not least, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Roberto Pereyra (both £6.0m) remain at the same price they were 12 months ago.

Both Watford assets had their best-ever seasons in terms of attacking returns (12 and ten respectively) and the Hornets’ first four fixtures rank highly on our Season Ticker.

Gerard Deulofeu‘s (£6.5m) price rise and positional change may lead us to reconsider Doucoure and Pereyra as mid-price midfield options, although the Argentinean winger didn’t register a single goal or assist in the second half of 2018/19.

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632 Comments Post a Comment
  1. KidingRunner
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    1 day, 15 hours ago

    RMT please

    Ryan
    TAA, Zinchenko, Wan-Bissaka
    Salah, Sterling, Sigurdsson, Tielemans
    Jota, King, Rashford

    Button, Rico, Dendonker, Kelly