Our analysis of the Fantasy Premier League price list will conclude with a look at budget midfielders.
While we may have struggled to so far pick out many gems among the cut-price defenders and forwards, the sheer weight of numbers among similarly priced midfielders – there are currently 119 such players priced between £4.5m and £5.5m inclusive at the time of writing – suggests there may be more joy to be had in the middle of the park.
With sub-£6.0m midfielders representing more than 25% of all FPL players, we will split this analysis into three separate articles.
This first piece will look at players available for £4.5m, the second focusing on £5.0m midfielders and a final feature to follow on those available at £5.5m.
The £4.5m Options
There are, at the time of writing, 35 FPL midfielders available for £4.5m.
The primary function of a £4.5m midfielder is to be an emergency option on our benches, to be ready to come in for a two-point (or better) return when rotation, injury and/or suspension bites hard.
The first requirement of such a player is that he is a reliable starter.
That immediately rules out a large number of Fantasy assets, although pre-season is yet to start in earnest and we may well see a surprise name emerge from this bargain bin of players.
There aren’t too many players at £4.5m who can guarantee us a game.
One of the most popular options in FPL right now is Leander Dendoncker, who currently sits in 9.5% of squads.
The Belgium international had to bide his time to become a regular starter under Nuno Espirito Santo, not making the matchday squad until Gameweek 10 and failing to make a single start in the first half of the season.
Dendoncker’s debut finally came in Gameweek 20 and he went on to start all bar one of Wolves’ final 17 league fixtures.
The central midfielder has scored twice in 2019 and, after his full debut, only six players in his position went on to register more big chances – all of them more expensive in FPL.
Wolves’ participation in the Europa League may lead to some rotation but Santo’s squad is fairly small, so Dendoncker should still get plenty of league starts.
Isaac Hayden is the only £4.5m-rated FPL midfielder who features in more FPL squads at the time being, although the Newcastle midfielder – who started the Magpies’ final 20 games – is seeking a move away from the north-east for personal reasons and his whereabouts next season are still to be confirmed.
Dale Stephens made 29 starts for Brighton and Hove Albion last season, meanwhile, registering two attacking returns.
A regular under Chris Hughton, we will have to monitor the Seagulls in pre-season to see if he features prominently in new boss Graham Potter’s plans.
Matteo Guendouzi offers semi-regular starts but that, arguably, isn’t good enough when we are also concerned about rotation to our heavy hitters.
The French midfielder made 23 starts last season but was named as a substitute on a further 14 occasions, coming on ten times.
Oriol Romeu is perhaps up there with Dendoncker in terms of first-team prospects, having started 21 of the 23 matches that Ralph Hasenhuttl oversaw.
The one-time Chelsea midfield spoiler has scored exactly one goal in each of the last four seasons, which is arguably perfect for those who don’t want the anguish of seeing their third-choice substitute stuck on the bench after a double-digit haul.
We may be able to add Tom Trybull to the mix, with the Norwich defensive midfielder a regular starter in the second half of the season at the expense of fellow £4.5m asset Alex Tettey.
Nampalys Mendy made 23 starts last season but not one under Brendan Rodgers.
Aside from those already mentioned, Morgan Schneiderlin was one of only two other £4.5m midfielders who reached double figures for Premier League starts (ten) but even he looks likely to be a backup again this season.
Grady Diangana was briefly a budget midfielder to monitor last season but West Ham’s plethora of attacking options may again restrict his chances, while the future of anchormen Pedro Obiang (who made 12 starts for the Hammers) and Carlos Sanchez is in some doubt.
Moritz Leitner was peripheral in the season run-in for Norwich after being an ever-present in the first 18 matches (the Canaries being well stocked in central midfield), while youngster Todd Cantwell may well be sent out on loan by the Championship winners.
Henri Lansbury, Birkir Bjarnason and the ‘out of position’ Keinan Davis look unlikely to be heavily involved at Villa, meanwhile.
The likes of Mohamed Elneny, Danny Drinkwater, Matty James and James McCarthy would appear to be backup options or surplus to requirements at their respective clubs, with only Arsenal’s Egyptian making any league starts (five) last season.
Youngsters such as Ethan Ampadu at Chelsea, Luke Dreher at Crystal Palace, Tahith Chong and James Garner at Manchester United, and Callum Slattery and Tyreke Johnson at Southampton will be hoping for breakthrough seasons at their respective clubs but remain only prospects for the future at present. Only Slattery of this group made a league start last season.
Brighton’s Beram Kayal will have his fingers crossed for more game-time under new boss Potter, while defensive midfielder Hamza Choudhury is one to monitor (for starts, if not attacking returns) as he continues his development under Brendan Rodgers.
Daniel Amartey is the other Leicester midfield option at £4.5m but it is difficult to see where the some-time right-back fits into Rodgers’ system when he returns from an ankle injury.
Oliver Skipp made just two starts at Spurs last season, while Domingos Quina and Nathaniel Chalobah – who were in Javi Gracia’s starting XI on just three occasions each – will likely be backup options again in central midfield.
Rafael Camacho has left Liverpool on a permanent deal while Luke Amos has joined QPR on loan from Spurs.
It should be stressed that the above information is how we see the picture in early July and there is plenty that could happen between now and Gameweek 1.
We’ll keep you up to speed on all the developments in pre-season and shine a light on any names from this price tier should they look like threatening some league starts.
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