A chunk of high ranking Fantasy Premier League managers opted to sell Kevin de Bruyne (£10.0m) and Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) for Gameweek 8.
The Manchester City midfielder was ruled out of the meeting with Wolves this weekend after suffering a groin injury against Everton.
Manager Pep Guardiola described the issue as “not serious” this week and seemed optimistic that de Bruyne would be back after the upcoming international break.
However, that relatively positive update on the player was not enough for a sizeable portion of managers currently ranked inside the top 10,000 places worldwide.
Going into Gameweek 7, de Bruyne was sat in 85.8% of teams at this level, more than any other Fantasy asset.
However, his ownership in the top 10k dropped to just 59.9% for the Gameweek 8 deadline.
That represents an ownership drop of 25% at this level of the game.
Some of that might be influenced by a change of personnel inside the top 10k, but considering de Bruyne scored nine points against Everton, it seems unlikely that many teams without him earned green arrows into the upper echelons.
Considering the Belgian international was sold by 795,000+ managers worldwide for Gameweek 8, it seems likely that his drop in top 10k popularity was heavily influenced by these sales.
The Fantasy community will almost certainly be holding its collective breath over the international break as we await further information on de Bruyne’s recovery – so it will be interesting to see how much ground can be gained by this chunk of managers as they go without him for at least Gameweek 8.
Another premium option moved on by this season’s highest-ranking Fantasy managers was Liverpool man Salah.
He was sat in just 54% of top 10k teams at the Gameweek 8 deadline, a drop of 16% from the 66.1% recorded ahead of Gameweek 7.
Those sold the Egyptian for Gameweek 8 breathed a sigh of relief on Saturday afternoon as Liverpool were largely restricted by Leicester City.
The Reds did win the match courtesy of a James Milner (£5.3m) penalty but it was scored after Salah had come off with a knock.
Whether he would have taken it had he still been on the pitch is hard to say given that Milner has historically taken spot-kicks even when sharing the field with Salah.
The injury did not look too serious at the time and he will have an international break without any match duties to recover.
However, Jurgen Klopp did seem angry about the challenge on him from Hamza Choudhury (£4.5m) and did not paint a positive picture.
“How can he be okay? He was limping from the pitch and you ask me if he’s okay! How can he be okay?! Did you watch it back? Watch me, what do you think?” – Jurgen Klopp
With De Bruyne and Salah both losing support among the top 10k, it is interesting to see which premium options increased in popularity for Gameweek 8.
It appears one of the most common recipients of those players’ funds was Raheem Sterling (£12.1m).
The England international’s popularity within the top 10k rose from 30.6% to 38.2% for Gameweek 8.
However, Sergio Aguero (£12.2m) also saw a dip in popularity for this weekend, dropping from 52% ownership in the top 10k for Gameweek 7 to just 40.5% for Gameweek 8.
To see where some of these funds have been moved to, a look at the Gameweek 8 Wildcard template among the top 10k gives us some clues.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s (£11.0m) recent form has convinced 49.8% of managers at this level who Wildcarded this week to include him in their squad ahead of Bournemouth’s trip to the Emirates Stadium.
Also included among the most popular Wildcard targets was Riyad Mahrez (£8.6m) selected by 36.2% of top 10k Wildcarders for Gameweek 8.
The absence of de Bruyne from this selection shows that the Algerian has been pounced upon as a short-term opportunity while the Belgian is out.
Despite Aubameyang’s popularity on those Wildcards, and being signed by 210,000+ managers worldwide, for Gameweek 8, the top 10k were not particularly interested in him for the captaincy this week.
It was a close-run thing for the most popular captain in the upper echelons of the world rankings, Aguero and Sterling both backed by a similar amount.
It was the Argentinian who topped the charts for top 10k captains, 23.5% of them handing him the armband for that meeting with Wolves.
Meanwhile, 22.5% placed the armband on Sterling and 13.9% went for Salah.
Aubameyang did not appear in the top three and made up the 40.1% chunk representing ‘Other’ captains.
Aubameyang was captained by just 13% of managers in the top 10k in Gameweek 8, while 6.8% went for Teemu Pukki (£7.2m) and 4.5% backed Harry Kane (£11.0m).
Finally, another look at general chip usage among the top 10k shows that they are becoming more and more a reliable test of high performance.
40% of the managers at this level are yet to use a chip this season, while 37.1% of them have played just one.
According to the breakdown, it is the Wildcard that remains the most popular, used by 39.5% so far.
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