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It’s been a season of wild unpredictability so far, and that doesn’t look like changing any time soon.
Even my Football Index dealings have managed to stumble into the latest, and equally unforeseen, footballing subplot that is the England creative midfielder debate.
For those of you who are new to the concept, Football Index is a kind of stock market where people use real money to bet on football.
You buy shares in individual players whose value can rise or fall depending on their performance both on and off the field.
I bet on Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount before the international break. In fact, I bought him before Chelsea stuffed Crystal Palace 4-0, with the following note made at the time:
Available for £2.23, quick sell £1.70 – offered to buy shares at £2. Offer accepted.
Risky when all Chelsea’s new men are fit, but Frank Lampard has consistently backed him and Chelsea have a good schedule.
That plan immediately backfired as Lampard ‘consistently backed him’ to stay on the bench throughout the win over the Eagles.
But help has been at hand with the international break and the media’s fixation with England boss Gareth Southgate’s preference for my man over ‘New Gazza’, Jack Grealish.
All the talk of that – and his lucky looping winner against Belgium – has resulted in some Media Dividends over the international break for the Chelsea midfielder, with his price still well above what I paid.
Grealish, however, is another matter entirely.
Mount’s returns have been modest, whereas profit in the Villa man has been huge.
When I added him to my watchlist, he was available for £2.63 a share. He’s now valued at around the £4 mark – a rise of about 50%. Even if I’d bet on him at his stated price, rather than sniffing around for a deal with fellow traders, I could do an instant sell as I type and earn over a pound per share in profit.
A star turn against Liverpool, an excellent England debut and all the yadda yadda over his non-selection for the Belgium game have combined to make Grealish one of the hottest FI properties at present.
The soap opera over his international future will add some spice, but his bread and butter returns remain rooted in the Premier League.
Villa’s next four matches (before another international break) are a mixed bag, with Leicester and Arsenal away and home matches with Leeds and Southampton, but their 7-2 win over Liverpool makes Dean Smith’s side look dangerously fixture-proof.
And Grealish’s numbers are equally enticing. Among midfielders who have played three times this season, only Kevin De Bruyne and Sadio Mane have managed more attempts than the Villa talisman’s nine, while the Man City playmaker also betters him for chances created (14 v 10), although Grealish has three assists to the Belgian’s one.
Mount meanwhile, has also had nine shots, but just one assist from six chances created and, damningly, one goal to Grealish’s three.
Chelsea’s short-term schedule is similar to Villa’s – home games with Southampton and Sheffield United, trips to Man United and Burnley – so it’s a matter of whether I stick with Lampard’s protégé to see if the Blues can kick on from a patchy start or gamble on the Villans being able to sustain their early-season perfection.
One thing is for sure – Villa have done some astute transfer business, taking some of the attacking strain off Grealish.
So the likes of Ross Barkley (£1.27) will also need monitoring, especially as Smith’s men are, as a general rule, considerably cheaper than Lampard’s on FI.
Personally, probably foolishly, but entirely in line with the latest footballing controversy, I’m currently leaning towards favouring one of the ‘big six’ and betting on Chelsea improving and Villa having peaked.
My heart says Grealish, my head (and portfolio) say Mount. Time will tell which bet wins out.
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