Fantasy Premier League managers are now frantically searching for a viable replacement for Kevin De Bruyne (£11.9m) ahead of Gameweek 20.
I recently signed the Manchester City midfielder for Double Gameweek 19 and, considering he is our for four to six weeks according to Pep Guardiola’s last estimate, he is going straight back out again.
But who to replace him with? That is the key question, which I will look to answer in my latest article about how my team is faring in 2020/21.
BEST DE BRUYNE REPLACEMENTS
I excluded Bruno Fernandes (£11.3m) and Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) from my shortlist of five possible candidates since I already have them in my team but I think both of them are clearly the best choices if you are a non-owner. Despite modest performances in the Double Gameweek, we all know what they are capable of and both of them are set-and-forget picks for me right now.
RAHEEM STERLING (£11.4m): Manchester City plays against West Brom and Sheffield United in the next two Gameweeks so it is tempting to make a direct switch from De Bruyne to one of his teammates. Having started seven of the last eight Premier League matches, Sterling is probably the most nailed and explosive option among City’s midfielders, in my opinion. Looking at his numbers, if we split his season in half, it becomes clear his expected goals and assists per 90 minutes increased a lot in the past few months.
Sterling’s expected Goal Involvement xGI) per 90 minutes (Gameweeks 1 to 9 on the left and Gameweeks 10 to 19 on the right)
Regardless of this improvement, I think he is clearly overpriced this season, especially if we compare him with the likes of Fernandes, Son or even Grealish. Coupled with the ever-present possibility of a random benching in an easy fixture, I doubt Sterling is the best available option to replace De Bruyne.
SON HEUNG-MIN (£9.7m): After selling Son last week, I was fairly settled on Salah, De Bruyne and Fernandes as my heavy-hitters of choice going forward. But unfortunately, injuries cannot be predicted and so, Son is back on my plans once again.
At first glance Spurs’ fixtures seem really tough which may scare potential investors in the South Korean superstar. They do play against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City in three of the next five Gameweeks, which is far from ideal. On the bright side, however, three of the next four matches are at home and it seems to be the perfect moment to play against Liverpool and Chelsea, given their recent poor form.
All in all, I think Son is definitely one of the best (if not the absolute best) options to replace De Bruyne. His attacking numbers are great, his finishing is second to none in the Premier League and his pricing seems fair considering what he offers.
JACK GREALISH (£7.7m): With just one attacking return in the last four Gameweeks, Grealish has been underwhelming as an FPL asset lately, which will possibly deter further investment from non-owners like me. It’s important to note, however, that he played against Chelsea, United and City and yet, he still managed to create the second most chances among all midfielders, only behind Mason Mount (£6.8m).
I think Grealish is still a great option going forward. He is at the heart of an impressive Aston Villa team and he is nailed to play 90 minutes in every single match, which is a very important factor these days. Even without spot-kick duties, I think he offers an impressive mixture of safety, attacking threat and price.
PHIL FODEN (£6.3m): With five shots inside the box and six chances created against Aston Villa, Foden immediately positioned himself as an appealing option for those on the market for a midfielder.
However, even after De Bruyne’s injury, Guardiola has a lot of attacking options at his disposal and I think it’s highly unlikely Foden will suddenly become a nailed starter, regardless of how many goals he scores or how many chances he creates.
I’m sure he will be worth £6.3m, even with the odd benching but, with so much money available right now, I don’t feel like sweating City’s lineup every Gameweek when there are several more reliable and safe options to pick from.
ILKAY GUNDOGAN (£5.5m):Having scored five goals in the last seven matches while playing at least 70 minutes in every single one of them, Gundogan looks like an absolute bargain, especially now that there is an extra-spot available in City’s midfield.
If we add spot-kick duties and two amazing fixtures to the equation, Gundogan becomes really hard to ignore. The only downside I can think of is the possibility of a rest very soon, given how much he has been playing lately and his history of long-term injuries.
At the moment, I managed to discard Sterling and Foden and it seems like my decision will most likely be between Son and Gundogan (although Grealish is still in the mix).
If you are looking to upgrade someone for a hit or even for free next week, I think the decision is fairly easy. Gundogan offers insane value right now with great attacking numbers, decent expected minutes and penalty-duties for just £5.5m.
For the rest of us, who are looking to buy the best possible option regardless of price , I think it’s really close between Son and Gundogan. It’s actually quite possible I get Son for De Bruyne this week and Gundogan for Soucek next week but, with three days still to go until the deadline, I am waiting a bit more before making my final decision.