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Fantasy managers can be a fickle bunch. Or ruthless, depending on your point of view.
Players who have helped them hit the heights are all too often ditched at the first hint of a dip in form, to be replaced by the newest, shiniest toy that everyone has decided is now the latest must-have.
This can be true in both Fantasy Premier League (FPL) and Football Index (FI).
Football Index is a real-money betting platform where you can buy and sell shares in footballers.
These players’ value can rise or fall depending on their performance both on and off the field.
I’m actively using FI this season with more than a nod to FPL, seeing which aspects of each game marry up, and which don’t.
A certain loyalty can go a long way in FI, with shares bought early and low in a player slowly accruing value over time, allowing for inevitable bumps along the way.
But there have been instances when traders seem to have been a bit more knee-jerk.
Since February 1, Liverpool have gone on a four-match losing streak in the league, culminating in last weekend’s chastening Merseyside derby defeat.
Amid mutterings of Anfield crises and the need for Jurgen Klopp to have a rest, star player Mohamed Salah‘s share price had dropped from £2.51 to a not-so-romantic Valentine’s Day trough of £1.72.
He’s now available for £1.71 and that loss of confidence in the Egyptian has been mirrored on FPL, where he’s lost around 200,000 owners over the last three Gameweeks despite scoring for two consecutive matches and hitting four goals across his last four starts before the Everton debacle.
The question now is will Liverpool find their mojo again and, if they do, have the share prices of the likes of Salah still got further to fall in the meantime?
The Reds are looking very well-placed to make the quarter-finals in Europe, and their immediate domestic schedule is equally encouraging, with Sheffield United, Fulham and Wolves to come.
There’s the potential for Match Day Dividends (MDD) from those ‘easier’ fixtures, while Media Dividends are never far away with Salah.
He’s long been a media magnet, racking up 12,510 media points in FI, courtesy of 301 mentions, in the last three months alone. For context, team-mate Sadio Mane (£1.03) had 94 mentions leading to 4,820 points.
And of the £0.39 per share in dividends Salah has brought in over that time frame, £0.25 has come from media pay-outs.
Throw in the extra coverage the Champions League always produces – the competition also offers the highest MDDs as CL games are often part of Gold Match Days – and Liverpool stars could be on the rise again.
Away from Anfield, the saga that gripped many in FPL might well be about to play out in FI as well.
Ilkay Gundogan (£0.91) has delivered in buckets in recent weeks, scoring 11 goals in his last 12 league appearances at a knockdown FPL price.
So delicious was his form that he was the captain of choice among a large slice of fantasy bosses for Manchester City’s Double Gameweek involving Spurs and then Everton.
He delivered in spades, with two goals and an assist, against Tottenham. But a groin injury picked up late in the match meant he missed the trip to Goodison Park, leaving some especially entitled managers bleating about their bad luck.
In the end, the German international was out for just the one match, and he remains very popular in FPL.
But doubts over the in-form midfielder’s fitness might have been behind the quietly increasing interest in Kevin De Bruyne (£3.06) being exhibited by FI traders.
His share price was slowly creeping back up as he prepared to return from the hamstring injury that sidelined him for four weeks, with a peak earlier this week of £3.24.
FPL managers might need to take heed of the market forces on the Belgian.
And if you’ve not bet on De Bruyne in FI, now might be the time to act.
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