Less than three weeks remain until the English Premier League is back. As all 20 managers scramble to complete their final preparations for the season, it’s time to discover some bargain signings that might have escaped your attention in Fantasy Premier League.
A decent deal can always be found for goalkeepers, who are typically valued well-below high-profile midfielders and attackers. For example, Manchester United’s David De Gea, who is probably the best keeper in the league, is priced at a measly £5.5m.
De Gea wasn’t the highest-scoring keeper last season, though, despite keeping 14 clean sheets and returning a solid 136 points. That feat went to Burnley’s Tom Heaton, who scored 149 points, and will set you back just £5m.
Moving up into defence, it’s important to pick as many threatening players from set-pieces as possible. I’m sure most who played last season felt the wrath of West Brom’s Gareth McAuley (unless you were already aware of him and picked him), who scored six goals and got one assist to finish with 131 points.
And all of that will cost you a grand total of £5m.
In all fairness, even the most expensive defenders won’t cost you more than £7m (Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso – £7m, the most expensive defender currently listed), so if there’s any area where you can afford to pick the priciest players without worrying about your overall budget, it’s in defence.
Remember: pick defenders who will give you the best chance of threatening from set-pieces/providing assists/keeping clean sheets. A defender who is a nominated penalty taker (Liverpool’s James Milner – £6.5m) is always worth-while.
Sticking with Liverpool for a moment as we transition to the midfield, Georginio Wijnaldum is priced at £7m, £0.5m less than he was this time last year.
That’s an interesting decision considering he was the second-highest scoring midfielder (Sadio Mane is listed as a midfielder) out of all Premier League signings last season – scoring 6 goals, assisting 9 and amassing a total of 149 points – more than Paul Pogba (£8m, 115 points), Leroy Sane (£8.5m, 105 points) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£8m, 73 points).
For an even more economical pick-up, Watford’s Etienne Capoue costs £5.5m. The Frenchman managed his highest-ever Premier League goal return last season, netting 7 times (with 4 of them coming in the first 2 months of the Premier League) and scoring 131 points.
Chelsea’s Willian is another surprisingly cheap option at only £7m. He scored 8 times and assisted 3 last season, totalling 114 points. Of course, his status as a first-team player is not clear-cut, perhaps making this a riskier choice.
Amongst strikers, Newcastle’s Dwight Gayle stands out as a serious bargain at just £6.5m. Sure, a quick glance through his Premier League history with Crystal Palace won’t suggest much, but he’s coming off a 23-goal season in the Championship and should be offered a starting role up front at Newcastle.
A change of scenery for Jay Rodriguez at West Brom could help him rediscover the goalscoring touch that earned him his first and only cap for the England national team in November 2013. Rodriguez scored 15 and assisted 3 in the 2013/14 season, returning 152 points, but a subsequent ACL injury put an end to his momentum. He costs £6m, not bad for a player who returned 73 points from limited appearances last season, and could be quite the strike partner for Salomon Rondon.
Speaking of partnerships, Everton’s potential strike duo of Wayne Rooney and Sandro Ramirez should come under consideration. Both are priced at £7.5m, making them affordable options, and are likely to play a key role in filling the void left by Romelu Lukaku’s departure. Sandro is an unknown quantity on English soil but has proven pedigree in La Liga, netting 14 times and assisting 3 with Malaga last season, while Rooney hopes a return to his boyhood club can propel him back to the status he earned during his lengthy spell at Old Trafford.