With the Premier League season over, the summer of speculation is here. Fantasy heads like us are eagerly following the rumour mills and checking regularly for news. With that in mind, here’s our third 5-asides of the off-season (you can read the others here), focusing on the summer stories that have caught our eye from a Fantasy Football point of view.
1) A ke signing for Bournemouth
Bournemouth announced on the 30th June the signing of Nathan Ake from Chelsea for £20 million, which was a club record – breaking the previous record of £15 million spent on the ‘disappointing’ Jordan Ibe. Finishing the season at only 3.7m in FPL, we hope that he won’t be too expensive next season, and even trolled FPL towers on twitter in order to encourage them to keep his price low:
Great prosp.. oh wait actually he's rubbish, def don't want him in your team: give him a 4.5 #FPL towers 😉
— Who Got The Assist? (@WGTA_FPL) June 30, 2017
Ake, as a young player, has a lot of potential and Bournemouth were significantly better with the Dutchman in defence than without him. In the 8 games he played the full 90 minutes for them last season, they won 4 of them and drew once including impressive wins against Leicester and Liverpool. Ake played an important part in those 8 games, scoring against Southampton, Liverpool and Stoke and helping them keep clean sheets against Leicester, Swansea and Stoke again (achieving the immortal 15 point score for a defender with the 3bps as well). As a goalscoring defender, he is definitely a player I will be keeping a close eye on next season – he may certainly be a good rotation option in defence with Bournemouth first five fixtures playing WBA, Watford and Brighton but also having challenging fixtures against Arsenal and Man City. If he comes in at 4.5, though, he could be a real “fire and forget” option in FPL.
2) Everton ‘Keane’ on this ex-United man
The summer of spending continues with Everton. It looks like Romelu Lukaku will be leaving the club to return to Chelsea, with Everton investing heavily this summer on new players such as Davy Klassen from Ajax (who we looked at in our prospecting the prospects series here) and Jordan Pickford from Sunderland. Another player they have been linked with heavily is Michael Keane of Burnley who looks set to move to the club for £25 million plus add-ons. He is likely to walk into the central defence as a new partner of Ashley Williams, with Phil Jagielka’s legs beginning to fail him and Ramiro Funes Mori never really impressing (plus trolling both myself and Tom by not appearing in various games after we both brought him in at various points last season).
With Seamus Coleman out of the beginning of the season, our recommendation for an Everton defender (should you want one!) would be Mason Holgate. Likely to be better value than the rest of the defence, the England U21 international also has more attacking potential at full back. However, as I just implied, we think you should avoid Everton until Gameweek 6, as 4 of their first 5 fixtures are very tough (Tottenham, UTD, Chelsea and Man City). From Gameweeks 6 through 9, though, they then have a great run of fixtures starting with home matches against Borunemouth and Burnley, then away to Brighton, making them ripe for early wildcard investment.
As for Burnley, I fear that losing Michael Keane will weaken them severely at the back and unless, they plug the gap quickly, they will struggle next season. The upside in terms of Burnley assets is that it may result in more save points for Heaton, but if he is priced at 5.0 next season (due to his stellar season in 16/17) the lack of likely shut outs due to a leaky defence may reduce his ownership.
3) Keita lot of money for this guy!
Every season the transfer figures become crazier and crazier. This summer, there are rumours of Liverpool spending a record £70 million to bring in Naby Keita from Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig. If confirmed we will definitely be doing a PTP article on him.
For now, all that can be said is there will be yet another Liverpool midfielder to add to our “Reds roulette” table: Firmino, Coutinho, Mane, Salah, Lallana, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Milner, Can and now this guy too! Ok… I was pushing the boat out with the last few there.
Keita scored 8 goals and got 7 assists last season, so there is definitely attacking potential there. Maybe he will be the answer to our questions over which Liverpool midfielder to own next season…or maybe not. Either way, this is one to watch.
4) A less boering Palace
Frank De Boer was confirmed as the new manager of Palace last week and he has been speaking to the media a lot! As well as confirming he binged on Netflix after the Inter sacking (presumably a fan of namesake Frank Underwood in House of Cards?), he also advised he wants to see Crystal Palace be more dominate next season.
So what does this mean for their FPL assets? Well, for starters, with a new exciting manager in charge at the club (creating the “new manager bounce”), the likes of Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha definitely have more appeal. They have great opening fixtures, starting with a plum home fixture against newly promoted Huddersfield, as well as playing Swansea and Burnley in three of their first five. With a penchant for rolling out Ajax’s 4-3-3 formation, we could see de Boer’s tactics really fuel interest in those two, plus maybe even the forgotten Andros Townsend, if he transplants that approach to his set up at Palace.
I am not so convinced by their defence – they conceded an average of 1.86 goals per game when loanee Sakho didn’t play – and please do not mention the name Martin Kelly to me.
However, I would highly recommend Benteke or Zaha as good cheaper attacking options next season – I know Tom is definitely considering Tekkers as part of his 3-5-2, especially if given a 7.5 pricetag. Either way, it’s a team we’ll be watching in preseason with great interest.
5) Alexisn’t going to stay (probably)
It appears that Arsenal fans are resigned to star player Alexis Sanchez leaving the club, with the player himself telling the media that it is ‘clear’ in his mind where he is going. Manchester City seems like a likely destination, but Arsene Wenger will fight hard not to sell to a rival, and it is unlikely the Arsenal fans will forgive him if he did so, especially considering the number of Arsenal players that have previously left for City (plus RvP having previously left for Man Utd). It will surely be intolerable for Arsenal fans (and Arsenal TV talking heads in particular) to see their side again be the Southampton to City’s Liverpool.
If he does leave, French international Alexandre Lacazette appears to be heading in the opposite direction, which could well appease the concerned Gunners fans. The deadly French striker scored 28 goals (as well as supplying 3 assists) for Lyon in Ligue 1 last season and the Metro have run a comparison on him against some of our favourite FPL strikers that is definitely worth checking out.
Interestingly enough 50% of the voters in the Metro’s poll believe he will win the golden boot next season if he did move to the Gunners, whilst only 24% backed this season’s winner Harry Kane.
Arsenal have a tough opening run starting with matches against previous Premier League winners Chelsea and Leicester so it may be sensible not to invest too heavily in them at the beginning of this season, especially given their historically pitiful record on the opening day of the season.
As for Sanchez, with a long, protracted transfer saga likely to take place and the player himself is also likely to be tired: he still hasn’t had a summer break, having played in the Confederations Cup with Chile!
A final point is that City already have a number of decent attacking assets (how can Pep fit KdB, D. Silva, B. Silva, Sterling, Sane, Jesus, Kun and Sanchez in an XI?) so he may well be one to avoid at the beginning of the season due to the high price tag mixed with this uncertainty. Let’s see how this develops: we’ll provide a view if this does come to pass – though, as a Gooner, I’m not sure Tom will be best pleased!