Fantasy Premier League managers have more money in the bank than they know what to do with right now.
The reason for that is the ongoing struggles of premium assets to either stay fit, find form or combine the two.
At the same time, a number of cheaper options have made put themselves on our radar – but which of them can we trust above all others?
We asked members of the Scout Academy which midfielders priced under £8.0m were the best investments moving forward.
Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan celebrates scoring against Aston Villa
The first name on my list has to be Ilkay Gundogan (£5.8m). Even before Kevin De Bruyne (11.9m) went down with an injury in Gameweek 19, the German international was already making his presence felt, with five goals in seven matches. Without De Bruyne, Gundogan netted two goals in two matches, and is now involved set pieces, taking Manchester City’s penalties.
While most of his contributions thus far have come from his adventurous runs into the box and calm finishing ability, his assist potential has remained bubbling under the surface. Only six midfielders have created more chances than him in the four Gameweeks prior to Gameweek 22, highlighting his potential for even greater returns in the weeks to come.
Leicester City’s Harvey Barnes celebrates scoring their first goal against Crystal Palace
With recent injury to Jamie Vardy (£10.0m) Leicester City are relying on a collective effort for goals. In two of their last three, Leicester have used a false-nine in Ayoze Perez (£6.0m). This strategy has caused an increase in penalty area touches, runs into the box and overall goal involvement for Harvey Barnes (£6.9m). With Wolves up next, who have conceded in 11 of their last 12 matches, I can see the winger continue to flourish in the next four Gameweeks.
Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish celebrates scoring
After a blistering start to the season, Jack Grealish (£7.7m) has gone under the radar recently. But his influence on the Villa team has remained significant and with the recent return of Ross Barkley (£5.9m), Villa’s attacking potential looks set to increase. As they face an Arsenal outfit facing injuries and bans in defence, he could have an enjoyable Gameweek 23.
Harvey Barnes (£6.9m) looks to be offering FPL managers an excellent option right now. Although the Leicester midfielder has been picked up by a healthy number of FPL managers over the past few weeks, he still finds himself in just 7.3% of teams.
With a healthy run of fixtures on the horizon, Barnes could be a relatively inexpensive way into a Foxes’ attack despite his Gameweek 22 blank at Fulham.
Who doesn’t love a bargain? Whether it’s going to the shopping mall for Boxing Day sales; hitting up your local thrift shop for a second-hand item; or clicking that link for the ‘flash sale’ in your inbox from your favourite retailer, there’s just something about getting that special thing at a discounted price that puts a smile on your face. Fantasy football is no different.
Before he was struck by injury, Diogo Jota (£6.6m) was suddenly in everyone’s squads as he helped form part of Liverpool’s ‘Fab Four’ and had us seriously asking if we could cover the likes of Sadio Mané (11.9m) and Mohamed Salah (12.6m) with him.
Right now, we find the ‘discount De Bruyne’ Ilkay Gündogan (£5.8m) who has quickly gone from 0.9% ownership, to a staggering 18% in a few months. Even with his price rising by the round, his attacking contributions and bargain price allow us all to splash the funds elsewhere in our side.
But one player I would like to point out, is Leicester City’s Harvey Barnes (£6.9m) at 6.8% ownership. He has produced returns in four of his last five matches.
Bakayo Saka (£5.4m) looks like a great option right now. Having nailed-down his starting place under Arteta, he has had 17 starts and 18 appearances this season, he boasts five goals and three assists which is amazing considering Arsenal’s poor start to the season.
However, now Arsenal are finding some consistency in their performances Saka has the potential to add to that tally. With an xG of 4.84 going into games against Manchester United, Wolves and Aston Villa I think he can get some decent returns, especially considering his incredibly cheap price tag.
There are some very interesting assets in the £8.0m bracket, which is a good thing especially with so many premium picks being injured, rotated or not on form.
Ilkay Gundogan (£5.8m) is a more popular choice after the injury of Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m). With seven goals in his last 10 Premier League appearances, the German international has found his scoring boots and has given Pep Guardiola an attacking midfield drive in the absence of the ever-reliable De Bruyne.
Paul Pogba (£7.7m) is the final iTD differential. Manchester United are pushing for top spot and with Pogba getting a rest against Southampton, he should be back for the Everton match. His individual experience and talent will be a huge factor in their pursuit for the top four. Bruno Fernandes (11.4m) takes the trophy for the best stats, but Pogba’s involvement in attack is continuously growing and will really be a factor in Manchester United’s success or failure in the title chase.
As Ilkay Gündogan (5.8m) has become an incredibly popular choice given his performances over the last few Gameweeks, those who are chasing in their mini-leagues may be interested in an alternative option from Manchester City.
Bernardo Silva (£7.4m) has started the last nine Premier League games for Manchester City, and Pep Guardiola’s latest comments about the Portuguese midfielder indicate that he is finally back to his best. A goal and two assists in his last four matches show that might just be true enough for consideration in our teams.
In some late transfer window news, I’m going to keep an eye on how quickly Takumi Minamino (£6.0m) can break into Southampton’s starting XI after his short-term loan move was confirmed.
Finally, anyone who has watched Jonjo’s Shelvey‘s (£5.3m) performances in the last four Gameweeks knows that he’s been unlucky to only have one assist. He finally delivered on his promise by netting in Newcastle’s 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace.
When looking at midfielders priced under £8.0m, there is only one man I can talk about, and I could talk about him all day, every day.
Since breaking into the Coventry City team at just 17 and scoring the goal to avoid relegation on the last day of his debut season, it was clear to me that James Maddison (£7.3m) was destined for big things.
He continues to improve his game every season, and with three goals and four assists in his last seven games, he is clearly a man in top form.
While a blank against Leeds may have concerned his owners, Maddison’s potential only increases with each positive update we receive about Jamie Vardy (£10.0m).
Maddison also provides the ideal combination of form and fixtures, with Wolves and Villa coming in the near future.
What’s happening in the Scout Academy?
January saw the launch of our new Fantasy Football Scout Podcast Scout The Gameweek from the Scout Network. Hosted by the Scout Network’s Sam from the FPLFamily, the first three episodes have seen guest appearances from Ted Talks FPL, FPL Nymfria and Leo from Bendito Fantasy.
Over the next few weeks you can hear from the likes of the Scout Network’s Adam from the FPL experiment Podcast as well as the Scout Academy’s very own FPL Chip Chat, FPL Side Net and FPL Gents. Scout the Gameweek is available on all your usual podcast platforms.
Jason and Beraht have been busy throughout January producing two videos every week on their YouTube channel and managing to keep pace with the hectic Gameweek schedule.
The guys at American’s Talk FPL are preparing to restart their Champions League content very soon as well, with the competition kicking off again on Tuesday, February 16.
Along with their usual weekly episodes, the guys at the FPL Hangover Podcast have launched their first Livestream/Watchalong to celebrate their 100th Episode!
This month FPL Focus has started a brand new show on Wednesday called Wildcard Wars in which content creators and FPL managers come on to pick a Wildcard team to try beat his team for a place in his Hall of Fame.
The first show saw Glen Kightly choose his team FPL FOCUS – WILDCARD WARS FT GLEN KIGHTLY.
FPL Focus has also been making regular Gameweek reviews and preview videos over on his YouTube channel.
FPL Chip Chat have recently launched their FPL Road Chip. FPL Road Chip comprises of a series of videos outside some of our local London Premier League Clubs. These video’s are exclusively available on their Instagram page. They have also started to record video content for some of our podcasts to provide you with more visual content. This new video content is available on FPL Chip Chat’s brand new YouTube channel.
FPL Gents posts about all thing FPL on multiple social media platforms every single day.
On their site the guys at FPL Gent update the FPL return probabilities ahead of every gameweek deadline.
This month Oscar has created a video for the FFScout YouTube channel looking at the different section of the FFScout Premium Members Area and how it can be used to aid an FPL Managers decision making. Keep your eyes peeled for more from Oscar soon!
Throughout January, FPL Side Net have produced three new episodes covering the normal Gameweeks as well as the all important Blank and Double Gameweeks. These podcasts saw FPL Side Net talk through various strategies on chip usage, as well as the changing landscape of FPL in the Covid world. Their boys had some big scores to celebrate, and some chip results to commiserate as they reviewed and previewed the Gameweek’s as they came thick and fast throughout the month.
FPL iTD has been busy throughout January posting his POWERPLAY squads over on Instagram to give his followers transfer guidance in an attempt to be the number one ranked FPL manager for the Gameweek!
He has also been regularly hosting Q&As looking ahead to the upcoming Gameweeks and discussing topical talking points through video Instagram posts.
FPL In The Dugout has plans for a giveaway once iTD reaches 1000 Instagram followers – head over and give him a follow!
It has been aquiet January for the public-facing side of the FPL Talking Points website. However, FPL Talking Points has been hard on the back-end of the website to completely restructure how individual content creators are presented on the site.
It is FPL Talking Points goal to take the focus away from individual episodes and posts and promote more evergreen content for each contributing member of our FPL Community. FPL podcasters, content creators and streamers can request to join the site ahead of the launch of some exciting new features!
FPL Shake N Bake has continued to preview each Gameweek throughout January. He played his Freehit chip in Gameweek 18, and during his previews highlighted his move to bring in Cancelo in Gameweek 20 (just in time for his monster haul!)
FPL Shake N Bake has also been collaborating with some other members of the Scout Academy, to highlight the great work that is going on.
FPL Shake N Bake has some exciting plans to feature a guest contribution from a current professional footballer, getting his insights on FPL – keep an eye on his website for more on this!
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