And we’re back. Get ready to dust off your managerial flat cap, iron out your treasured tracksuit and buy a year’s supply of touchline chewing gum, because Fantasy Football is upon us.
The 2018/19 season only finished a month ago but it’s been a tortuous, soul-searching few weeks and, well, now we’re ready to do it all over again, but who will be this year’s hidden gem – a la Aaron Wan-Bissaka – or this year’s high-flying bargain buy, a la Ryan Fraser?
Well, Fantasy Premier League has now officially released the new player prices and positional changes for 2019/20, so, you can finally get your tactics board back out and begin preparations for the new campaign.
There will no doubt be a few poisoned chalices, Alexis Sanchez at £7m seems a good bet here, but there are, as always, some absolute steals, and here at Squawka, we’ve crunched the numbers to determine this season’s biggest bargain buys.
Lukasz Fabianski (West Ham)
The Poland international ranked fifth last season for goalkeepers with the highest points accumulated (143) and with good reason: no stopper saved more shots in the Premier League last term than Fabianski (149).
At £5m, the veteran gloveman is a no-brainer, plus, since 2016/17, no goalkeeper in the English top-flight has saved more penalties than West Ham’s current No. 1; with VAR coming into play next campaign, Fabianski could be a busy man from 12 yards, offering the prospect of significantly more points.
Max Aarons (Norwich City)
Get him in now. Aarons could be this year’s Matt Doherty. The attack-minded defender has all the requisite characteristics of an archetypal modern full-back and is almost guaranteed to offer a threatening presence in the final third.
In the Championship last season, the teenage tyro notched the joint-second most assists for full-backs (6), attempted the third-most dribbles (92) and successfully completed the second-most (56), while he also took on the third-most shots from inside the penalty area (17) and registered the fourth-most passes (1820). That he was linked to Manchester United earlier this month is, therefore, no coincidence and at £4.5m, he is an absolute snip.
Ahmed Elmohamady (Aston Villa)
Another forward-thinking full-back, the experienced Egyptian is back in the big time after a two-year absence and could add some serious attacking pedigree to your backline. Like Aarons, the Villa defender registered an impressive six assists from defence, the joint-second most in the Championship last season.
Daniel James (Manchester United)
The first-ever signing of the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era, James isn’t the marquee superstar signing Man Utd have become accustomed to over the years but he could flourish under the Norwegian. Why? Since Solskjaer became manager in December, no team produced more fast breaks (18) than his side in the league, and when you couple that with the fact that James recorded the third-highest fast breaks per 90 minutes (0.25) in the Championship of any player last season, the two playing styles look like a match-made-in-heaven – this could prove a lethal alliance.
James Maddison (Leicester City)
Position: Central attacking midfield
Only one player in the Premier League last season reached triple digits for chances created: James Maddison.
Having laid it on a plate for his teammates a whopping 100 times, in what was his maiden top-flight campaign, the Foxes playmaker is a surefire bet to flourish once again, especially under the more attack-minded approach of Brendan Rodgers.
In fact, in Europe’s top five leagues, only three players registered 100+ chances: Maddison, Memphis Depay and Alejandro Gomez. So, at £7m, the young England midfielder should be one of the first to put in your starting XI.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace)
He was the excessively cheap but indispensable defender last term, and despite his price increasing dramatically this time around, the 21-year-old remains an enticing investment.
In 2018/19, the south Londoner was one of only two defenders in the Premier League with 40+ tackles made (129), take-ons completed (61) and interceptions made (84); the other was Leicester City’s Ricardo Pereira, but why spend an extra £500k when you can pick Wan-Bissaka up for only £5.5m? Though you will have to get in there quick before his price rises even higher as he is on the verge of completing a much-anticipated move to Man Utd.
Should that transfer come to fruition then expect a Wan-Bissaka that offers so much more in the final third. Considering he was a forward until only a few years ago, he certainly possesses all the key traits to be able to thrive as an elite-level attacking full-back.
Position: Central attacking midfield
West Ham’s latest recruit, the Spain U-21 hero has been the standout performer in the European Championship this month and with good reason. It was a difficult season for Villarreal in 2018/19 so Fornals’ numbers were perhaps not up to their usual standard but let’s not forget, he was the top assist provider in La Liga for 2017/18 (12) alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Not bad when you consider Barca hammered home 99 goals that year and the Yellow Submarine mustered a mere 57.
He placed in La Liga’s top 10 for chances created from open play last campaign and former Hammer Dean Ashton has already labelled him a “striker’s dream” so, at only £6.5m, he is certainly worth a punt.