Having scoured the Fantasy Premier League price list for the pick of the budget midfielders, we now switch our focus to the mid-price bracket.
For the purposes of this piece, we are looking at options with a starting price between £5.5m and £7.0m inclusive.
Big-Six Starters and Back-Ups
This could be a big season for Phil Foden (£6.5m), who has long been touted as a replacement for the now-departed David Silva.
After being sparingly used before the coronavirus outbreak, Foden was more heavily involved after lockdown, starting six of Manchester City’s final 10 league games and appearing as a substitute in another three.
Foden delivered six attacking returns and averaged 5.6 points per match over this period (the same as Son Heung-min‘s (£9.0m) season-long mean), although it should be said that most of his joy was had in a more advanced position to the one Silva occupied during his decade at the Etihad.
Rotation is inevitable even with ‘El Mago’ gone and, at £6.5m rather than £5.5m, his price makes him that bit harder to own as a luxury pick.
But the 20-year-old prospect is definitely one for the watchlist for when Guardiola’s troops begin their campaign in Gameweek 2 and he offers a substantial saving on even the likes of Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m), who doesn’t look much more ‘nailed’ than Foden.
Elsewhere at City, the jury is still out on new arrival Ferran Torres (£7.0m), while the more restrained Rodri (£5.5m) and Ilkay Gundogan (£5.5m) will only chip in with the occasional attacking return from the base of the City midfield.
There’s a gap of £5.5m between Liverpool’s two free-scoring premium assets and any other Reds midfielder, which likely tells you all you need to know about the other options from Jurgen Klopp’s side in the middle of the park.
Other than Harry Wilson (£5.5m), who spent last season on loan at Bournemouth, only club captain Jordan Henderson (£5.5m) registered more than five attacking returns among Liverpool’s nine-strong group of mid-price midfielders.
The more attack-minded Naby Keita (£5.5m) is potentially one to monitor after two goals and three assists in just 806 minutes in 2019/20 but it’s in the engine room where Klopp more frequently rotates, while the likes of Takumi Minamino (£6.5m) will be reliant on injuries picked up by the first-choice front three for meaningful game-time.
Game-time could also be a huge problem for Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley (all £6.0m) after Chelsea’s lavish spending in the transfer market this summer, with Kai Havertz also being heavily linked at the time of writing.
Even Mason Mount (£7.0m) may be nervously monitoring the Blues’ in-bound activity, having been a favourite of Frank Lampard’s last season.
Mount – who delivered six of his 13 attacking returns in the first ten Gameweeks of 2019/20 – appeared in all but one of Chelsea’s 38 league fixtures last season, starting 32 of them, but would be a sizeable rotation risk if attacking midfielder Havertz also arrives.
Arsenal’s four mid-price assets are either underwhelming or problematically priced, with Willian‘s (£8.0m) capture potentially eating into the game-time of former budget favourite Bukayo Saka (£5.5m) – who has been handed a £1m starting price rise – and Reiss Nelson (£5.5m).
Who knows what the future holds for Mesut Ozil (£7.0m) after his late-season disappearing act but, even when he was a regular under Mikel Arteta, two attacking returns in ten starts is reflective of his waning powers.
Granit Xhaka (£5.5m) is no longer a set-piece specialist at Arsenal (he took only one corner last season) and is also perhaps half a million too pricey as a result.
Manchester United’s quartet of midfield options in the £5.5m-£6.5m bracket managed just two starts between them after lockdown and, barring any injuries picked up by the first-team regulars, will be expecting to play second fiddle when the Red Devils’ season gets underway in Gameweek 2.
Lucas Moura (£7.0m) and Giovani Lo Celso (£7.0m) are perhaps the pick of Spurs’ five mid-priced midfielders, with the Lilywhites gifted some favourable fixtures at the start of 2020/21.
Lo Celso has enjoyed a share of corners since Christian Eriksen departed and featured in a more advanced role after lockdown, claiming three assists.
Lucas was also a regular down the right flank when football resumed in June and set up two goals, although he and Lo Celso didn’t score a goal or register a big chance between them.
Lo Celso could also potentially move into a deeper role to accommodate Dele Alli‘s (£8.0m) return, while Lucas faces the permanent threat of rotation with Steven Bergwijn (£7.5m) now an alternative on the wing.
Newly Promoted Assets
The four most advanced Leeds United midfielders in behind their central striker will all set FPL managers back at least £5.5m.
The most expensive of them is Pablo Hernandez (£6.0m), who supplied 18 attacking returns in the Whites’ title-winning year.
Unlike his creative counterpart at West Bromwich Albion (see below), however, 35-year-old Hernandez may be prone to a spot of rotation as the season goes on.
He doesn’t have the monopoly at set-play situations, either, so there are understandable reservations about the undeniably gifted Spaniard.
Wingers Helder Costa and Jack Harrison plus the penalty-taking Mateusz Klich will all set Fantasy bosses back £5.5m, the last two of whom both started all bar one of Leeds’ 46 Championship games.
We’ll point you in the direction of our dedicated piece on Leeds’ attacking assets for more information on that trio, although we’ll also highlight the fact that loanee Harrison will be ineligible to face his parent club in Gameweek 4.
Matheus Pereira (£6.0m) is, arguably, the stand-out midfielder from any of the three promoted clubs and he comes at a cost as a result.
A total of 16 assists (and that’s discounting ‘Fantasy assists’), 116 key passes and 20 big chances created were not only highs in the West Brom squad but bettered by no other player in the entire Championship.
No Albion player could match Pereira’s shot count (111) last season, either.
On a share of corner-taking duties and first in line for direct free-kicks, Pereira may offer multiple routes to Fantasy points in an otherwise limited Albion attack.
The chances of wingers Kamil Grosicki (£5.5m) and Matt Phillips (£5.5m) starting in Gameweek 1 may well hinge on who else West Brom bring in over the summer, as Slaven Bilic is down three loanees – all of them attacking midfielders – who played a big part in 2019/20.
Given their inconsistency against inferior opposition in 2019/20 and the fact they were in and out of the Fulham side at the end of the season, wingers Ivan Cavaleiro (£5.5m) and Anthony Knockaert (£5.5m) have limited appeal at this early stage.
The deeper-lying Tom Cairney (£5.5m) was a more nailed pick under Scott Parker but, given Fulham’s relative shortage of goals in the second tier and Cairney’s meagre FPL returns two years ago, there’ll be understandable scepticism about the Scotland international.
There is a lot to like about a Europa League-less Wolves, not least their fixture run from Gameweeks 3-7.
But while Raul Jimenez (£8.5m) offers reliability in terms of starts, the one or two slots alongside him appear to be up for grabs.
If any of Adama Traore (£6.5m), Daniel Podence (£5.5m), Pedro Neto (£5.5m) and the reclassified Diogo Jota (£6.5m) were considered secure starters, then they’d be featuring in a lot more FPL team drafts than they are at present.
Take the post-lockdown period, for example: while Jimenez was an ever-present in the season run-in, not one of the above quartet started more than six of Wolves’ final nine matches.
Perhaps the fixture congestion played a part in that but in truth the uncertainty went further back in the calendar year, with Nuno Espirito Santo alternating between a 3-5-2 and a 3-4-3 from February onwards.
The hope would be for the stability we saw in the middle third of last season but with the emergence of Podence especially, the situation looks too unpredictable at present.
2019/20 felt like a slightly underwhelming one for James Maddison (£7.0m) from a Fantasy perspective, with the England international being outscored by teammate Harvey Barnes (£7.0m).
The underlying data suggests this was something of a freak occurrence, with Maddison registering half the assists that Barnes managed despite creating over twice as many chances.
Barnes does admittedly pose the greater goal threat of the two, getting into the opposition box and shooting on a more frequent basis, but while Maddison is a shoo-in to feature if fit, his teammate is less secure: in the post-lockdown era, Barnes made more substitute appearances than starts.
Ayoze Perez‘s (£6.5m) ability to play on the right or centrally meant he was slightly less at risk of rotation as Brendan Rodgers switched formation in the run-in but he was still the most-substituted Premier League player of 2019/20, averaging only 61.2 minutes per appearance.
Some decent opening fixtures for the Foxes are tempered by Europa League involvement and poor form this calendar year (four wins and eight defeats in their last 17 league matches), so a cure for their 2020 hangover is needed before they seriously re-enter the thinking.
A reclassification and a price hike were inevitable for John Lundstram (£5.5m) after his memorable 2019/20 but he is still cheaper than current teammate John Fleck (£6.0m), who looks a tad expensive.
What Fleck likely has over Lundstram is security of starts, with Sander Berge‘s (£5.0m) arrival and a contract saga potentially leaving the former ‘out of position’ FPL defender on the cusp of a Bramall Lane exit.
It’ll still be worth keeping tabs on Lundstram if he makes a move to another Premier League team, as he registered more big chances last season than any other sub-£6.0m midfielder in this article.
It goes without saying that he’ll be worse off as a Fantasy midfielder: he would have lost out on around 40 points had he been classified properly in 2019/20.
Fleck registered two fewer attacking returns than Lundstram, meanwhile, so doesn’t scream ‘value for money’.
Fantasy managers know they are getting security of starts with their Burnley assets, and Dwight McNeil (£6.0m) and Ashley Westwood (£5.5m) were both nailed picks last season.
The parallels were striking: both scored twice, set up seven goals, started every match they were available for and shared set-piece duties.
Winger McNeil offers that bit extra creativity from open play, of course, and his expected goal involvement (xGI) suggested he should have delivered two more attacking returns than his teammate.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on the fitness of Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£5.5m), whose glass calves restricted him to just six starts in 2019/20.
On his day he’s capable of an assist or two and the right-wing spot is there for the taking at present, with the Clarets’ squad paper-thin.
Don’t forget, though: Burnley blank in Gameweek 1.
The Best – and Worst – of the Rest
No sub-£7.5m FPL midfielder ‘underachieved’ more than James Ward-Prowse (£6.0m) in 2019/20, with his two missed spot-kicks not helping his xGI delta.
It remains to be seen if Ward-Prowse remains on penalty-taking duties following his two misses from 12 yards, with the Golden Boot-chasing Danny Ings (£8.5m) allowed to take two penalties in the run-in.
No player took more corners than Ward-Prowse last season and he is a constant menace from both indirect and direct free-kicks, which is a good job as his threat from open play has taken a downward trajectory since his move to a ‘number six’ role in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s 4-2-2-2.
Someone who thrived in that new system was Stuart Armstrong (£5.5m), who established himself as one of the two ‘number tens’ ahead of Sofiane Boufal (£5.5m) and Moussa Djenepo (£5.5m).
Not as nailed as Ward-Prowse or the slightly overpriced Nathan Redmond (£6.5m) due to Hasenhuttl’s management of his minutes, he nevertheless registered more goals and shots than any Saints player bar Ings from Gameweek 13 onwards (the point of the pivotal tactical reshuffle).
No mid-price midfielder in this article has indeed scored or shot on more occasions than Armstrong in 2020 so far, even if most of those efforts came from distance.
Only relegated Norwich City scored fewer goals than Crystal Palace last season and, with Roy Hodgson still at the helm, it’s hard to see Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m) and co being transformed into a gung-ho attacking side in 2020/21.
Zaha did register more penalty box touches and shots in the opposition area in 2019/20 than any other midfielder now priced at £7.0m or under, while he has averaged over 16 FPL returns per season across the last four years; last year’s haul of four goals and six assists lowering that mean.
A lack of penalties killed Luka Milivojevic‘s (£6.0m) appeal after two seasons of spot-kick joy, meanwhile.
It’s perhaps worth keeping an eye on Jeffrey Schlupp (£5.5m) in pre-season, with the Ghanaian deployed as an out-of-position striker in the 2-1 friendly win over Oxford United.
Down the M23, Adam Lallana has it all to prove at an inflated £6.5m after years of inertia at Anfield.
Graham Potter’s bloated squad and his predilection for rotation will be enough to put most FPL managers off Brighton assets, despite the promising team he is building.
Leandro Trossard (£6.0m) is the obvious standout name from the Seagulls but even the Belgian, who posed the biggest goal threat of Albion’s midfield assets and who enjoyed the odd ‘out of position’ run-out up front, still warmed the benched on 12 occasions in 2019/20.
Much is expected of Alexis Mac Allister (£5.5m) in his first full season on the south coast but his rawness was evident in the run-in and he remains low down on the watchlist for now.
There was some bemusing pricing of Aston Villa assets going on at FPL Towers upon the game’s relaunch, with the listing of Jota at £6.0m the most baffling decision.
Reported Manchester United target Jack Grealish (£7.0m) is fairly priced, though.
While the Villa talisman only delivered two attacking returns in his final 15 appearances, it shouldn’t be forgotten how impressive he was before that point.
Grealish racked up seven goals, six assists and 14 bonus points in the first 23 Gameweeks of the campaign, averaging a very respectable 5.0 points per match over this period.
Despite the barren run in the final third of the campaign, Grealish still finished first for overall score (149) and points per match (4.1) among sub-£7.5m midfielders (discounting the reclassified Matt Ritchie (£5.0m) and Lundstram).
Only De Bruyne created more chances than Grealish in 2019/20.
Trezeguet (£5.5m) was Villa’s form midfielder in the run-in, scoring three goals, but only Grealish, Douglas Luiz (£5.0m) and perhaps John McGinn (£5.5m) look truly secure in Dean Smith’s XI, with rotation commonplace throughout last season.
McGinn looked off the pace after recovering from a long-term lay-off so it will be interesting to see if a pre-season regime has helped him recover his stamina levels after an impressive start to 2019/20.
Pre-season has started well for Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.0m), who scored twice and set up another in the Toffees’ 3-3 draw with Blackpool.
The consensus seems to be that the Icelander needs a number ten role to maximise his potential, something that wasn’t afforded to him until Carlo Ancelotti switched from a 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1 in Gameweek 37+.
Everton were back in a 4-4-2 at the weekend, however, with Sigurdsson offering little from open play and reliant on a corner, a free-kick and penalty for his three attacking returns against Blackpool – not that FPL managers care a jot where their goals and assists come from.
The Toffees’ five midfield assets at £5.5m-£6.0m were equally underwhelming in 2019/20, so there’ll be few takers from that quintet despite the decent opening run of games.
FPL managers may be leaving West Ham assets well alone until the fixture swing in Gameweek 9 but Jarrod Bowen (£6.5m) is the stand-out name from the Hammers’ seven-strong group of mid-price midfielders, having made a big impression since his move from Hull City.
The winger was an ever-present starter from Gameweek 28 onwards, setting up four goals in the post-lockdown era alone.
Pablo Fornals (£6.5m) also made the starting XI in every game from this point but was less eye-catching and David Moyes has a wealth of attacking midfield options waiting in the wings, including Manuel Lanzini (£6.5m), Robert Snodgrass (£6.0m), Andriy Yarmolenko (£6.0m) and returning loanee Grady Diangana (£5.5m).
Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.5m) is the highest-owned FPL midfielder under £6.0m at the time of writing, although his eye-catching displays haven’t always been converted into FPL points during his time on Tyneside.
His minutes-per-xGI figure was the best of Newcastle United’s midfielders last season but that average paled in comparison to many other assets in his Fantasy position and the lack of a clinical striker up top for the Magpies sometimes meant his fine work out wide went unrewarded.
The change to a more attacking 4-2-3-1 in March seemed to remove the shackles from Steve Bruce’s side, with five of Saint-Maximin’s eight attacking returns in 2019/20 arriving in the final ten Gameweeks.
Jonjo Shelvey (£5.5m) is an interesting alternative at this price point: the deep-lying playmaker had the best points-per-match average (4.0) of any sub-£6.0m midfielder in this article bar the reclassified Lundstram and Ritchie, with his involvement at free-kicks and corners integral to his returns.
Best players by position:
- Goalkeepers: Budget
- Goalkeepers: Premium
- Defenders: Budget
- Defenders: Mid-Price and Premium
- Midfielders: Budget
- Midfielders: Mid-Price
- Midfielders: Premium
- Forwards: Budget
- Forwards: Mid-Price
- Forwards: Premium
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