Having scoured the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) price list for the pick of the budget midfielders, we now switch our focus to the best players in the mid-price bracket.
For the purposes of this piece, we are looking at options with a starting price between £5.5m and £7.0m inclusive.
THE BEST… BIG-SIX STARTERS AND BACK-UPS
After scoring five goals, including a hat-trick, in Manchester City’s final seven league games, Ferran Torres (£7.0m) is a watchlist candidate heading into the new season.
As ever, trying to predict Pep Guardiola is a fool’s game but based on Champions League line-ups we might expect the Spaniard not to be part of City’s ‘best XI’.
Torres’ colleague Bernardo Silva comes in at the same price. The Portugal player is probably more assured of minutes but lacks Fantasy appeal, having notched just nine attacking returns over the course of 2020/21.
Jesse Lingard (£7.0m) currently wears a Manchester United shirt on FPL. His transfer situation is one to monitor after he bagged nine goals and five assists in half a season at West Ham.
Of Arsenal midfielders who played over 1,000 minutes last season, only Nicolas Pepe (£7.5m) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.0m, FWD) amassed a goal chance quicker than Bukayo Saka (£6.5m).
The England international also created the joint-most big chances for the Gunners (5) along with Willian (£6.5m). Lagging just behind on four is Emile Smith-Rowe (£5.5m). It appears as though Martin Odegaard will not be coming back to the Emirates, though transfers are a fickle business at the best of times.
“Real Madrid have been clear that they would like me back. So then it will be time to go there when the training starts up again. Of course it has always been a dream to play there. I have been in the club for over six years now and that has always been the goal.” – Odegaard speaking to TV2
However, after an eight-goal loan spell at Newcastle, Joe Willock (£6.0m) could put a spanner in the Smith-Rowe works. If he remains at Arsenal, Willock would also be vying for one of Mikel Arteta’s attacking midfield spots.
As Chelsea’s first-choice penalty taker, Jorginho (£6.0m) deserves a mention considering his consistency of minutes. The Blues do begin with a difficult run of games but spot-kicks can arrive in any fixture.
Depending on who takes the manager’s hotseat at Spurs, Dele Alli (£6.5m) could make a resurgence as a Fantasy asset. The midfielder broke back into the Tottenham team in the final five Gameweeks of the season under Ryan Mason, picking up two assists along the way.
“For me, Dele was excellent. I don’t really like singling out players but it’s hard not to because I’m sure everyone felt it. He ran, he competed, he pressed, he created opportunities. I’m sure he’s disappointed not to get a goal himself. [But] it was an excellent number 10 performance, I’m really, really pleased.” – Mason on Alli’s performance v Wolves in BGW36
The Liverpool midfield in this price bracket is a slight wasteland, with Fantasy bosses unlikely to use up a precious Reds spot here.
THE BEST… NEWLY-PROMOTED ASSETS
Ismaila Sarr (£6.0m) is a known quantity in Fantasy terms, having scored five goals and provided seven assists in Watford’s 2019/20 campaign.
The Senegal international was the Hornets’ top scorer (13) in the Championship last season. He also chipped in with four assists, playing first as a right midfielder before Xisco Munoz took over and employed a 4-3-3 system where Sarr was given greater attacking licence.
Ken Sema (£5.5m) played on the opposite side from Sarr in Watford’s three-man attack under Munoz. Over the season, the Sweden international contributed five goals and five assists. Sema scored all five of those from a wide-left attacking role, while Sarr notched eight of his tally from the other side.
At Brentford, Bryan Mbeumo (£5.5m) is the standout mid-priced pick. The winger amassed eight goals and ten assists in 37 Championship starts. Mbuemo may struggle for suitors, however, considering Bees striker Ivan Toney (£6.5m) is available for an extra £1.0m.
Another former Fantasy favourite is Norwich City’s Todd Cantwell (£5.5m), who scored six times and notched two assists during the 2019/20 campaign.
The Canaries’ opening fixture run is nothing short of horrendous, so Cantwell can take a place on the watchlist as we assess this season’s version of Norwich before the fixtures turn for the better in Gameweek 5.
THE BEST… TOP-HALF OPTIONS
In this entire bracket, Raphinha (£6.5m) is probably the standout pick. The brilliant Brazilian scored six goals and contributed 10 assists in his debut season at Elland Road.
Only nine players had a higher expected goal involvement (xGI) over the campaign than the Leeds winger. Apart from Matheus Pereira – who was on penalties – only Mason Mount (£7.5m) is anywhere close in price to Raphinha on the rest of that list.
Leeds may have a mixed fixture list over the first six Gameweeks but their style of play lends itself to attacking returns in any game. At £6.5m, Raphinha could prove a real bargain in his second campaign under Marcelo Bielsa.
Team-mate Stuart Dallas (£5.5m) joins Raphinha in the midfield bracket, having lit up FPL last season as a £4.5m defender. The Northern Ireland man struck eight goals from an xG of 4.25 and his reclassification will dent his appeal, particularly considering Raphinha’s price.
With Ezgjan Alioksi’s contract expiring at Leeds, there is also the chance that Dallas ends up at left-back in a cruel twist of Fantasy positioning fate. That situation is one to monitor ahead of August.
Jack Harrison (£6.0m) is expected to join Leeds on a permanent deal this summer. He totalled 18 FPL goal contributions for the Whites last season, two more than Raphinha in around 500 more minutes.
Both James Maddison and Harvey Barnes have remained at £7.0m this season. The Leicester City pair managed around 2,000 minutes each, with Maddison (eight goals, seven assists) just outdoing Barnes (nine goals, five assists) in terms of goal contributions. On Barnes’ form in the earlier part of the season, Maddison commented:
“He was a threat in every game. He was blowing teams away. There were some games we’d come in at half-time and it would be, ‘Get Barnesy the ball’. I remember a few games, and especially one in the Europa League, I remember the gaffer saying at half-time, ‘There’s your match-winner, just get him the ball’, because he was so direct and in that red-hot form.”
A knee injury, which required two operations, sidelined Barnes for the final three months of the season. He is one player in particular where pre-season minutes will tell us a lot ahead of the Gameweek 1 deadline.
Maddison is also in that bracket, having been plagued with his own injury issues and some off-field discrepancies over the campaign.
Youri Tielemans (£6.5m) is a much safer Leicester option in terms of minutes, having made 37 starts last season. The Belgium midfielder returned four goals and six assists over those appearances, deputising for Jamie Vardy (£10.5m, FWD) on spot-kicks. Tielemans created a chance for his team-mates every 67 minutes and was the Foxes’ chief set-piece taker by the season’s end.
The aforementioned Lingard will be key in determining the viability of West Ham assets in attacking midfield, where Jarrod Bowen (£6.5m), Said Benrahma (£6.0m), Pablo Fornals (£6.0m) and Manuel Lanzini (£6.0m) all compete for places. Andriy Yarmolenko (£5.5m) will also be seeking minutes, having proved his fitness at EURO 2020.
Tomas Soucek (£6.0m) has been given a £1.0m price hike after his goalscoring exploits from central midfield last season. While the Czech Republic player bagged 10 goals, along with two assists, just one of those strikes came in the final nine games of the season.
At Everton, now undet the management of Rafael Benitez, both Gylfi Sigurdsson and James Rodriguez come in at £7.0m. The latter began the season on fire, with three goals and four assists in the opening six Gameweeks, before tail-offs in form and fitness saw Rodriguez burn out as a Fantasy option.
Spot-kick taker Sigurdsson, meanwhile, ticked along with six goals and five assists over the season. His minutes were patchy, totaling 2,244. While we wait to see who Benitez’s preferred personnel are at Goodison, the jury remains out on Everton midfielders.
THE BEST… OF THE REST
Emiliano Buendia (£6.5m) could rival Jack Grealish (£8.0m) for a place in our FPL squads for an Aston Villa midfielder. The ex-Norwich man had a quicker chance creation rate (30 mins v 38 mins) than Grealish during the 2019/20 season.
However, Grealish did create more chances (66 v 59) and more big chances (9 v 6) than Buendia. Nonetheless, the Argentina midfielder should offer creativity in abundance if he nails down a spot in Dean Smith’s favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.
With potential starter Jacob Murphy coming in at £5.0m, the £5.5m options at Newcastle are of little appeal and Allan Saint-Maximin (£6.5m) has been reclassified as a forward. Murphy himself has limited appeal considering Matt Ritchie (£5.0m) also plays as a wing-back but is classified as a defender.
At Wolves, a knee injury means Pedro Neto (£6.5m) will not be available for the beginning of the season. With a tough first three Gameweeks, FPL managers can probably sit back to assess Wolves and players such as Adama Traoré (£6.0m) before considering investment in Gameweek 4.
Eberechi Eze (£6.0m) is in the same boat as Neto, injury-wise.
Eze’s team-mate Wilfried Zaha is available at his usual £7.0m price tag. The Ivory Coast international had his best Premier League scoring season over the last campaign, netting 11 goals. As with several of the options on this list, Crystal Palace’s early fixtures lack appeal and the club are also yet to appoint a replacement for Roy Hodgson.
Southampton’s ever-present captain and penalty taker James Ward-Prowse (£6.5m) logged eight goals and seven assists during 2020/21, earning himself a price rise of £0.5m heading into the new season.
With players such as Raphinha in the same price bracket, Ward-Prowse may get overlooked but he is the definition of a ‘set-and-forget’ outfielder.
On the opposite side of that argument, Graham Potter’s leaning towards rotation makes Brighton midfielders a risky-pick area. Leandro Trossard (£6.5m) appears the most viable Seagulls option here, following a five-goal, six-assist season.
Over at Burnley, Dwight McNeil (£6.0m) had a paltry campaign in Fantasy terms with two goals and five assists. Only Fulham (27) and Sheffield United (20) scored fewer goals than the Clarets (33) last season, suggesting we might be better off looking elsewhere for midfield options.
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