With so many appealing premium options in Fantasy Premier League next season, the emergence of a playable budget forward would be a huge bonus.
Raul Jimenez was the Fantasy manager’s friend last year, returning 13 goals, ten assists and 31 bonus points having started the 2018/19 campaign priced at just £5.5m.
The Mexico international has predictably been handed a significant rise upon FPL’s relaunch for 2019/20 and will now set Fantasy bosses back £7.5m.
A cursory glance through the FPL price list suggests that we will struggle to find a ‘Jimenez’ among the sub-£6.0m forward options this time, although pre-season often throws up a wildcard from this price bracket that we had previously disregarded.
Big Six Back-Ups
Perhaps the most eye-catching name among the 22 strikers currently available in the £4.5m-£5.5m grouping is Divock Origi (£5.5m).
The Belgian striker only played 367 minutes of Premier League football last season but was increasingly involved in Jurgen Klopp’s squads as the year progressed.
We may only be an injury to Mohamed Salah (£12.5m), Roberto Firmino (£9.5m) or Sadio Mane (£11.5m) away from seeing Origi string together a succession of starts in the top flight, although Jurgen Klopp could very well bolster his attacking options over the summer following the release of Daniel Sturridge and sale of Danny Ings (£6.0m).
Origi was well down the pecking order at the start of 2018/19, with Sturridge and Xherdan Shaqiri (£6.5m) very much the preferred options when Klopp needed to hand breathers to one of his regular front three.
The Belgian striker featured in just three of Liverpool’s first 24 league matches, failing to make the matchday squad on 13 occasions.
However, Origi was the man Klopp frequently turned to in the season run-in: the former Lille striker deputising for Firmino from the start in Gameweeks 28, 29 and 38, as well as in the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg against Barcelona.
Origi came off the bench in the final of that competition to score Liverpool’s decisive second goal.
Mane and Salah are currently on duty at the Africa Cup of Nations, a tournament that could have a significant say in their availability in Gameweek 1.
The competition final takes place exactly three weeks before the start of the 2019/20 season, leaving little time for the premium midfield duo to recover and return to Liverpool’s pre-season camp should Egypt and/or Senegal make it that far.
Both Salah and Mane started in Gameweek 1 last season but their countries had been eliminated in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup and the pair had more than six weeks to ready themselves for domestic action.
More pertinently, Dejan Lovren and Jordan Henderson (both £5.5m), who made it to the final weekend of the World Cup with their respective countries, were handed three weeks off after their exertions in Russia and failed to start on the opening weekend of the Premier League season.
Origi, then, may be a short-term budget punt for Gameweek 1 should Salah and Mane be handled carefully by Klopp – though that is a decision that will likely have to be made very shortly before the season kicks off in early August.
Beyond that, Origi will be a ‘sleeper’ that could come in handy should any injury befall Salah, Mane or Firmino.
The other three FPL forwards representing a ‘big six’ club in this list are Eddie Nketiah, Mason Greenwood and Vincent Janssen (all £4.5m).
The budget trio managed just one league start between them last season and very much merit their cut-price tags, although Greenwood will be one to monitor given how impressed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was with the young United striker after his debut in Gameweek 38:
Mason Greenwood was brilliant, he was our best player by a mile and that says a lot about the kid. He came into the team with a lack of confidence and you can see that has take a total. Not surprised by his performance, we know he is capable of that.
Options from the Promoted Clubs
The arrival of Josip Drmic (£5.5m) could put pressure on Teemu Pukki (£6.5m) at Norwich City but the Finn is still expected to be Daniel Farke’s preferred option in Gameweek 1, with Drmic’s career needing a serious kickstart following an injury-ravaged few years.
You can read more about the Swiss international’s credentials in our Scout Report.
Dennis Srbeny (£5.5m) may not even be at Carrow Road come August but should he still be on the books, he won’t be of much interest to Fantasy managers: the German striker failed to start a single game last season and made only two substitute appearances in Norwich’s final 19 fixtures.
Jonathan Kodjia (£5.5m) is expected to be a backup option at Villa, meanwhile, with Wesley Moraes (£6.0m) having been bought from Club Brugge.
Kodjia started only five of Villa’s final 23 league and play-off fixtures and was mostly an impact substitute, featuring on the left flank as much as he did up top last season.
David McGoldrick (£5.5m) is perhaps one of the more likelier starters among the 22 players featured in this article.
McGoldrick played in all but one of Sheffield United’s 46 Championship fixtures (starting 36 of them) and scored more goals (15) than he has ever managed in a single season in the second tier.
Starting all but one match between Gameweeks 9 and 28, McGoldrick was one of the first names on the teamsheet for much of the season although did face bench duty on five occasions after Gary Madine and Scott Hogan’s loan captures in January.
Only four Championship players registered more shots than McGoldrick, with the former Ipswich Town forward also expected to be on penalties for the Blades in 2019/20 after his three successes from the spot last season.
There are slim pickings elsewhere.
Xande Silva and Connor Wickham (both £4.5m) failed to make a single start between them in 2018/19 and are some way down the pecking order at West Ham and Palace, although Marko Arnautovic (£7.0m) has handed in a transfer request in recent days and looks set for a summer exit.
Matej Vydra (£5.5m) hasn’t made one Premier League start in 2019, meanwhile, as he continues to play second fiddle to Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes (both £6.5m).
Joselu (£5.0m) is reportedly nearing the exit door at Newcastle but the exodus of players and manager, plus the failure to so far snap up Salomon Rondon on a permanent deal, could pave a way for Yoshinori Muto (£5.5m) to feature with more regularity in 2019/20.
Newcastle’s dismal opening run of fixtures and the Japan international’s forgettable debut season (one goal, no assists) will mean Fantasy interest is likely to be very limited, however.
There are several budget strikers whose first-team opportunities may hinge on injuries to their teammates.
Isaac Success (£5.0m) was very much fourth-choice forward by the season’s end at Watford and started just one league match in 2019.
Dominic Solanke (£5.5m), Lys Mousset (£5.0m) and Sam Surridge (£4.5m) are reliant on a loss of form or fitness from Josh King (£6.5m) and Callum Wilson (£8.0m), with even an ‘out of position’ David Brooks (£6.5m) generally preferred to this trio when the first-choice strike pair were sidelined last season.
Solanke, Mousset and Surridge made only three starts between them in 2018/19.
Further along the south coast, Shane Long (£5.0m), Michael Obafemi (£5.0m) and Sam Gallagher (£4.5m) face a fight for first-team minutes following the summer captures of Che Adams and Danny Ings (both £6.0m).
Nathan Redmond (£6.5m), meanwhile, was frequently deployed ‘out of position’ up front after Ralph Hasenhuttl’s arrival midway through last season.
Long saw more minutes and gained more FPL points in 2018/19 than any forward now in the sub-£6.0m bracket.
The Irish forward started 12 league matches last season, including five of Southampton’s last seven, and scored on five occasions.
Hasenhuttl had positive words to say about Long in the season run-in although the arrival of Adams, plus the fact that the Irish striker turns 33 midway through next season, may well see him again become a peripheral figure at St. Mary’s.
It will be interesting to see if Graham Potter can transform Brighton into a more attractive side over the summer, given his reputation for playing attacking football at Swansea and Ostersunds.
Pre-season will certainly be an intriguing watch, given that the Seagulls have one of the best opening runs of fixtures in the first six Gameweeks of 2019/20.
With Glenn Murray (£6.0m) turning 36 in September, budget forwards Jurgen Locadia (£5.5m) – more often used on the flank by Chris Hughton – and Florin Andone (£5.0m) will be hoping for more of a look-in under their new boss.
Potter seems likely to add to his striking options over the summer, though, which could swiftly dash any hopes on that front.
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