We turn our attention to midfielders in the mid-price bracket as we continue to plough through a position-by-position analysis of Fantasy Premier League assets ahead of the June restart.
For the purposes of this article, we have taken that to mean any midfield option priced between £5.6m and £7.5m.
A total of 61 players fall into this category and we’ll attempt to separate the value for money from the overpriced in our whistle-stop assessment.
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- Price: £6.4m
- Ownership: 21.1%
- Next four Gameweeks: SHU + CHE | new | WOL | liv
The most-bought FPL asset since the site relaunched earlier in the week, Jack Grealish (£6.4m) is experiencing a surge in ownership.
The early Double Gameweek is the main reason for that, of course, with Villa’s fixtures not too agreeable from Gameweek 32+ onwards.
What we’re getting from Grealish are a security of starts and a talismanic status, along with some set plays thrown into the mix.
The midfielder has been involved in 14 of the 32 goals that Dean Smith’s side have scored when he has been on the pitch and a huge proportion of Villa’s play is channelled down his side.
Only three top-flight midfielders have created more chances in 2019/20.
Injury enforced his only substitution and subsequent absence this season, so he might well be the nearest thing we have to an attacking asset who is guaranteed to play 180 minutes in Double Gameweek 30+.
- Price: £6.2m
- Ownership: 15.4%
- Next four Gameweeks: avl | MCI | whu | WAT
Chelsea’s midfield have impressed and underwhelmed in equal measure this season from a Fantasy perspective.
Mason Mount (£6.2m) has been the epitome of that, with six attacking returns in his first ten appearances but only five thereafter.
The midfielder has indeed blanked in 11 of his last 14 run-outs, which makes him a bit of a hard-sell.
A favourite of and a regular starter under Frank Lampard, Mount should at least offer us plenty of pitch-time in what is set to be a rotation-ridden period.
Mount has started 25 of Chelsea’s 29 fixtures this season and even in the four matches that he dropped to the bench, he emerged as a substitute.
Taking a share of the Blues’ free-kicks and corners, Mount – who is fifth among midfielders for shots this season – offers us all-round points potential, albeit without really looking like exploding.
A three-month break can surely only have helped a tired-looking Mount, with his pressing a huge part of Chelsea’s game.
The Blues’ wingers are arguably just as enticing for the forthcoming run against Aston Villa, West Ham and Watford (and beyond).
He and Pedro (£6.8m) are out of contract on June 30, however, with the pair yet to sign an extension to see them through to the end of 2019/20.
- Price: £5.7m
- Ownership: 16.8%
- Next four fixtures: whu | BOU | avl | ARS
Some juicy early fixtures for Wolverhampton Wanderers will see many of us flocking to the likes of Raul Jimenez (£8.1m) and Diogo Jota (£6.4m) ahead of the restart.
The cheaper Adama Traore (£5.7m) is a tempting option, too, but he does come with a caveat or two.
The winger had started 21 of Wolves’ 22 fixtures from Gameweeks 4-25, scoring on four occasions and setting up a further seven goals.
No midfielder under £10.0m created more big chances than Traore in this time, either.
Three benchings in the four matches shortly before the mid-March suspension dented his appeal, however, even if there were some underlying injury issues.
It wasn’t just Traore’s fitness that led to the flip-flopping between a 3-4-3 and a 3-5-2, however, with Santo having spoken about the ‘spaces’ in the former set-up after the Gameweek 28 win at Spurs.
Uncertainty surrounds his security of starts, then, but we can expect him to be handed regular minutes of some variety, given that he has featured in every single match from Gameweek 2 onwards.
- Price: £6.4m
- Ownership: 2.7%
- Next four fixtures: LEI | bur | SOU | che
Watford’s struggle for form earlier this calendar year coincided with Ismaila Sarr‘s (£6.4m) absence from the first team and his influence was hugely apparent when he returned to the starting XI for the shock 3-0 win over Liverpool.
His record under Nigel Pearson is superb, with four goals and four assists in his last eight starts, one of which was even curtailed at half-time.
Indeed, from Gameweek 18 onwards he features in the top ten midfielders for big chances per 90 minutes.
It’s Watford’s home form that has really caught the eye since Pearson was appointed, with 13 of their last 18 points and 12 of their last 18 goals recorded at Vicarage Road.
The absence of a cauldron atmosphere when we resume may limit that advantage, of course, but an upcoming run of Leicester, Southampton, Newcastle and Norwich on their own turf is a promising one.
Abdoulaye Doucoure and Roberto Pereyra (both £5.6m) represent cheaper routes into the Watford midfield.
Doucoure has himself delivered six attacking returns since moving to the more advanced number ten role under Pearson, while Gerard Deulofeu‘s (£6.1m) absence now looks to have opened up the left-wing slot for Pereyra.
- Price: £6.5m
- Ownership: 0.2%
- Next four fixtures: WOL | tot | CHE | new
One to put down only as a ‘maybe’ ahead of the fixture swing in Gameweek 33+, Jarrod Bowen (£6.5m) gave us a brief glimpse of what he is capable of in West Ham’s two matches shortly before coronavirus stopped play.
Making his full debut in Gameweek 28, Bowen delivered a superb, goalscoring display down the right flank in the 3-1 win over Southampton, with his darts in behind the opposition defence catching the eye.
He was equally impressive in the undeserved defeat to Arsenal, too.
Only three FPL midfielders had more shots than Bowen in those two aforementioned Gameweeks.
Bowen ticks both boxes in terms of good fixtures (after the next three) and representing a team with something to play for, although it should be said that the Hammers have an abundance of wide-midfield options and minute-management may well be an issue with the fixtures coming thick and fast.
Pablo Fornals (£6.0m) also looked to be hitting some semblance of form just before COVID-19 ground football to a halt but it’s Michail Antonio (£6.9m) who looks the main alternative to Bowen, given his ‘out of position’ tag.
Playing up top, Antonio was fourth among FPL midfielders for attempts on goal in Gameweeks 25-29.
Given his track record with muscle injuries, however, David Moyes may well be handling him carefully throughout the hectic run-in.
- Price: £6.2m
- Ownership: 4.3%
- Next four fixtures: wat | BHA | eve | CRY
Harvey Barnes (£6.2m) signed off in style in March, registering a 19-point haul that was as memorable for his owners as it was excruciating for those without him.
That superb display against Aston Villa was part of a longer sequence of improved performances and he registered seven attacking returns in as many Gameweeks before the Premier League’s springtime suspension.
In Gameweeks 23-29, Barnes racked up more shots in the box than any other FPL midfielder priced below £8.0m.
Granted, any notion of form is a flawed one after a three-month break and we don’t know which Barnes to expect when we resume behind closed doors.
There is also the matter of minute-management, with Barnes having been withdrawn on 16 occasions this season and rotated out of the side when the Foxes last encountered fixture congestion in a busy December period.
He has lasted 90 minutes in five of his last six starts, at least, undoubtedly influenced by his form.
James Maddison (£7.5m) is an alternative route into a Leicester team that faces four bottom-half sides in Gameweeks 30+ to 33+ but he has been one of the most frustrating assets to own over the last six months, with 12 blanks in his last 13 appearances.
Only five shots in the box have arrived in that time, too, as many as Barnes has managed in Gameweeks 28 and 29 alone.
First in line at set plays, Maddison has however created more chances than all bar one FPL midfielder this season.
With Tottenham Hotspur welcoming back a host of players from injury ahead of the Premier League restart, Fantasy managers may be eyeing up a Spurs asset or two ahead of their semi-appealing run of fixtures from Gameweek 31+ onwards.
Son Heung-min (£9.7m) has prospered under Jose Mourinho so far and will likely be a popular purchase but Steven Bergwijn‘s (£7.4m) availability at a cheaper price also warrants a mention.
With those two players preferring to play off the left, it remains to be seen how Mourinho juggles his team to fit both players in – and that’s before we factor in the competition from the likes of Lucas Moura (£7.1m) and Erik Lamela (£5.7m).
The Dutchman needs to up his numbers, too, with Son, Lucas and Dele Alli (£8.3m) all registering more attempts on goal in Gameweeks 25-29 despite playing fewer minutes.
The return of Harry Kane (£10.8m) could be interesting, though, with the striker’s tendency to drop deep opening up gaps that the pacy Bergwijn and Son could exploit behind him.
Secure starters may become even more of a prized commodity with the fixtures and substitutions coming thick and fast and there aren’t many players who have been as ‘nailed’ as James Ward-Prowse (£5.7m).
Half a million cheaper than teammate Nathan Redmond (£6.2m) and with twice as many attacking returns to his name in 2019/20, Ward-Prowse has not missed a single minute of league football in this campaign.
In fact, on only one occasion (the penultimate fixture of 2018/19, the match after Saints had secured their safety) since Gameweek 20 of last season has Ward-Prowse not lasted the full duration of a Saints league game.
On paper, he is not as attractive an option as Redmond: usually deployed as a ‘number six’ in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s 4-2-2-2 and occasionally in the problem right-back slot, Ward-Prowse doesn’t offer a massive threat from open play.
At set pieces, it’s a different matter, however.
First in line for penalties, direct free-kicks and corners, six of his eight goals/assists this season have come from one of those three situations.
He’s one to consider, perhaps, for the final three Gameweeks – providing the Saints still have something to fight for.
Dwight McNeil (£6.1m) is also an ever-present this season, while Miguel Almiron (£5.8m) has started 28 of his side’s 29 league games.
A corner-taker and a prolific deliverer of crosses, McNeil looks tempting on paper given Burnley’s aerial prowess.
And yet the winger has blanked in 16 of his last 17 appearances, with one double-digit haul in Gameweek 27 punctuating that run.
Even fewer will be interested in Almiron despite Newcastle’s upcoming fixtures, with the profligate Paraguayan having delivered only five attacking returns since joining in January 2019.
The Clarets and the Magpies may also be hurtling towards ‘on the beach’ territory.
With all the excitement surrounding Manchester United ahead of the restart, it’s easy to forget about the cut-price Daniel James (£5.8m).
Could he prosper in this new swaggering attacking unit, with Bruno Fernandes (£8.6m) and potentially Paul Pogba (£8.3m) pulling the strings?
There are no signs of it so far: James has not delivered one attacking return this calendar year.
His deployment on the right flank damages his goal threat, too, given that he is a natural right-footer and is more dangerous when cutting in off the left.
James might also be the sacrificial lamb if and when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer moves to a 4-4-2 diamond or 3-4-1-2.
Look out for some sentimental farewell appearances from the likes of David Silva (£7.3m) and Adam Lallana (£5.7m), too, although beware those who are expected to leave their clubs under less amicable circumstances – Ryan Fraser (£6.8m), for example, has reportedly turned down a short-term extension at Bournemouth.
On the subject of the Cherries, the south coast club will welcome back David Brooks (£6.2m) form a long-term injury in Gameweek 30+.
A popular budget pick in 2018/19 and predominantly a right-sided midfielder, his return could threaten Harry Wilson‘s (£5.8m) starts.
Wilfried Zaha (£6.7m) could be once again playing for a long-mooted move away from Crystal Palace this summer, meanwhile, although the Eagles’ iffy run-in and mid-table safety will likely see many of us swerving Roy Hodgson’s troops.
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