Summer stories that catch the eye (vol. 2)

With the Premier League season over, the summer of speculation begins. Fantasy heads like us are eagerly following the rumour mills and checking regularly for news. With that in mind, here’s our second 5 asides of the off-season, focusing on the summer stories that have caught our eye from a Fantasy Football point of view.

  1. Fletching in new waters

Guaranteed 2-pter

Oh, my favourite 5th mid. The earth-shattering news that, on 1st June, Darren Fletcher had moved on an FT  from WBA to Stoke (the difference between the two the same between haddock or cod with your chips in our view) certainly provoked… well, a minor ripple, in the football news (it is off season after all). But, in FPL circles… well, actually, the reaction was kind of the same.

All in all: a big, drawn out, “meh”.

I personally have great memories of Dazza, which is why he’s first up on our 5 asides today. He was my 4.4-valued 5th midfielder for the majority of the season. He leapt off the bench for me in GW12 with a goal and 8 points for the then-stricken Adam Lallana to land me… well… the average score for the week at 40. He’d come on, in and out, throughout the season, filling in for a variety of injured and dropped players alike – always with a solid 2 points, plus the odd extra clean sheet point thrown in every now and again.

In short, he’s my perfect 5th mid – cheap, plays every game and, crucially you’re never worried about him being on the bench. His 103 point return for the season meant he barely scraped into the top scoring 100 players for this year in FPL.

A leader in the dressing room and on the pitch (he was WBA’s captain within a week of joining), another season of solid starts for Stoke should beckon, with the likes of Glenn Whelan, Geoff Cameron and the disappointing Gianelli Imbula likely to slide down the pecking order.

My 5th mid again for the season coming? If he’s 4.5, he’s high on the list.

  1. Pure Klaassen; Pickford!

15th June saw Everton’s first forays into the transfer market – and, oh boy, were they a big one! For a (reported) combined total of £54m, Everton’s signing of Sunderland’s outstanding young ‘keeper Jordan Pickford (the 4.0 dream of last year) plus influential Ajax captain Davy Klassen, Ronald Koeman is wasting no time in shaping the club in his image.

We already know full well the potential of the young Englishman, who should tend the nets for the Toffees for years to come.

Klassen is more of an unknown quantity (outside of my serial ownership of the player on Football Manager), which definitely means you should read our prospecting the prospects on the player! Hint: he looks a good ‘un.

With Everton strengthening – Sandro Ramirez, Malaga’s Spain U21 striker is also apparently close to joining – they could well be a force to be reckoned with next season (even if Romelu Lukaku’s mooted transfer back to Chelsea goes ahead).

It’s just a shame their first 6 fixtures read: STK mci che TOT mnu. They will, however, come into the reckoning from Gameweek 7 onwards, with a fantastic trio of fixtures (BOU, BUR, bha). Keep your eyes peeled for that meta forming.

  1. On me Ederson.

Year 11 student wins City photo competition

£34.7m year-11 lookalike Ederson was confirmed as a City player on 8th June, bought to shore up their dodgy defence and, surely, put serial simple save avoider “Calamity” Claudio Bravo out of his misery between the sticks at the Etihad.

He breaks the British transfer record for a goalkeeper, but due to exchange rates does not break the world record, currently held by Gianluigi Buffon via his transfer from Parma to Juve in 2001 for 100 billion lire – which is now €51.6m.

Despite the fact that he will surely help make the City defence more secure, it’s probably true to say that premium goalkeepers are really not sought after. The majority will surely start the season with a set up of either 4.5/4.5 or my favourite 4.5/4.0 (with the 4.0 being the 4.5’s back up, think Heaton/Robinson, if possible). However, as we note in our prospecting the prospects article on him, Ederson’s custodianship of the City goal might well mean that some of City’s defensive assets – particularly if John Stones who, as a £50m central defender, must play a lot whilst being a contender for a kind price tag (5.0m perhaps?) – could see their appeal improved.

Though he kept an incredible 17 clean sheets in 27 games last season – an unfathomable 62.9% clean sheets ratio – we, as our upcoming prospecting the prospects on him will show, feel that he won’t really feature as an FPL prospect.

Plus he looks like a 15 year old.

  1. He’ll Defoe score

Poacher-in-chief Jermain Defoe confirmed his move to Bournemouth from relegated Sunderland on 5th June, saying:

It’s out there, a lot of people obviously knew. I did a medical and said when this is finished and I’ve had a break, come July everyone will know anyway.

(From the BBC)

This will have blipped on many an FPL manager’s radar because, despite how dismal the Black Cats were in their capitulation, he still managed to finish on 166 points – 5th amongst strikers, ahead of the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Jamie Vardy. His 15 goals and 3 assists – mostly plundered when his team felt they had a chance in the first half of the season – showed his continual ability to deliver in our teams.

With him signing for Bournemouth, last season’s favourite Josh King may well move back to the no.10 slot, and Benik Afobe may well be banished to a bench role. With Callum Wilson reportedly almost returned to fitness, it will be interesting to see where he fits in, but we can’t see anything but Defoe being one of the first names on the team sheet for Eddie Howe.

Bournemouth scoring more goals this season (55) than any in the “best of the rest” of the Premier League (i.e. anyone underneath Everton in 6th) can only be a good omen for the prospects of Defoe going in to 17/18, belying his advancing years.

With pricing for the usual suspects last year likely to be at a premium and Defoe’s team being relegated, surely they can’t give him above a 7.5m pricetag this year. That looks like a good prospect for either a 3rd striker in a premium-midrange-midrange line up or the 2nd in a premium-midrange-cheap/fodder line up for next year.

  1. Lindelofing every minute

Will he though?

We expect new United signing Victor Lindelof, bought for £31m from Benfica, to slot straight in to Jose Mourinho’s best XI alongside man mountain Eric Bailly to form the meanest looking back pair for them since Ferdinand-Vidic. Lots of discord between the manager and English pair Chris Smalling and Phil Jones regarding their respective injury records, plus Marcos Rojo’s absence til Xmas, surely cements his place in United’s first choice team.

As our prospecting the prospects article on him shows though, his aversion to scoring goals (1 last year v 6 for Gary Cahill) or assists (donut last year) might be his underdoing as an FPL prospect. Additionally, the likely congestion in the 5.5 bracket (if it’s 6.0, we can safely say he won’t figure, at least initially) and preference for wing backs in the current meta makes us think he might struggle to feature on manager’s radars early on, despite United’s kind initial schedule.

This shouldn’t be the end of United’s spending, with the more exciting prospect being mooted transfer of Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid as a replacement for the recently released Zlatan Ibrahimovic. We’ll be sure to rush out a prospecting the prospects article as soon as that materialises.