Preseason and the transfer window is in full flow, and a few fantasy thoughts crossed my mind.
The French hot shot was one of the stars of the 2016/17 season. Full of pace and movement, he is Europe’s next bright young thing and the player whom top clubs are trying to sign.
Monaco would like one more year, Arsenal and Wenger would love a forward who plays to their strengths and may already be a bigger name than Sanchez, Madrid are just Madrid, and Manchester City would very like to add him to their Pep project.
While there is clear talent, the figure of 160 euros for a player with one solid season behind him is eyebrow raising. Arsenal, you would assume, simply gets outbid, leaving Man City as is most likely Premier League home.
Should Mbappe play in sky blue, he would enjoy an endless supply of chances from the Silva boys, KDG and others. It’s already hard enough knowing what forward to buy this season, but can you imagine the meltdown in the fantasy football community should such a move happen? Say he was 12m... Could you fit Harry Kane, Lukaku and Mbappe into a squad you like?
Talking of Kane, 2 preseason games 2 goals. Alli and Eriksen are better value without considering the captains armband, but I just can’t press confirm on an FPL side without him right now.
Fantrax preview price – still to be determined. [Ed note: $19.57 in NMA League]
Once a Troll but now the most dangerous of the Red Devils in 2017/18. Lukaku held an amazing 48.3% ownership in FPL around lunchtime today. Part of the reason will be the attractive set of opening fixtures Manchester United have. Part will be his consistent ability to score in the EPL, and finally, part will simply be just because he plays for United.
For me most doubts about selecting him in my initial fantasy squads have almost disappeared after his performances so far in the friendlies. Jose Mourinho sides normally excel on the counter attack, so Lukaku’s combination of power/pace along with his initial thought to run in behind the opposition should mirror his manager’s tactics.
Doing this in preseason is fine, but the proof in the pudding will be the opening day against West Ham United onwards. Right now, despite all we have said in the past, the once Troll King is essential for game-week one.
Fantrax preview price 18.94m
As good a start as Lukaku has had, Rashford may be having a more impressive preseason. The starting 11 against Manchester City last week had the look of an 11 that may well start the opening game of the season (maybe Baily over Smalling). At just 7.5m in FPL, we could look to double up in the United attack and save ourselves .5m over the more obvious Pogba.
Fantrax preview price 8.31m
Henrikh Mkhitaryan/Paul Pogba
To end the United theme, one of the pre-deadline problems we may have is choosing which of the United midfield men we want. Many including myself think we will see a big season from Pogba, while Micki has been the standout player of pre-season so far. If the deadline was tonight, then Micki would be my choice. He has played further forward and been so heavily involved in the team’s attacks. That may change if, as expected, United add a natural defensive player to their ranks to give Pogba the attacking freedom that comes natural to him.
Fantrax preview price’s Pogba 13.49m, Micki 8.95m
Knockaert is not only the Brighton star man, but was a name popping up in many FPL draft squads. An injury in his opening pre-season game will see him missing from the side at least until the opening weekend. While Manager Chris Houghton is being positive on him being available in week 1, the injury and lack of game time sees him crossed off my draft player selection list.
Fantrax preview price 6.74m
With Eden Hazard set to miss the early games, it’s William who may benefit the most. Chelsea player of the season for 2015/16 found himself more of a bench player under Conte, but he will get the chance to stake a 1st team claim in the opening weeks. He will take direct free kicks and may get corners on top, and I fancy a bit of a bounce-back season from him.
Fantrax preview price 8.41m
While some say he is only 31, and in the modern game that’s still young, the truth is that Rooney is an “old” 31. He has been playing top flight football for 14/15 years, and his body has taken a bit of a battering. The injection of pace and power were lost a few seasons back, and the player himself needed a new challenge.
He now has that challenge at his beloved Everton, and I think he will enjoy his season at Goodison. I do not, however, think he will perform as well if Koemann decides to permanently play him as a no9. Rooney has never been his best with his back to goal. He is much more effective in the no10 role where his vision, technique and game reading abilities prosper.
Everton fixtures are horrible, and the new signings (there are a lot of them) will take some time to learn each other’s games. For those reasons, FPL needed to price competitively to go fishing with him; at 7.5m they will get a bite or two, especially after a very bright preseason.
Fantrax preview price 8.61m
I suspect some Knockaert owners will do the simple swap from him to Huddersfield’s Ince. Already in the goals, he strikes me as a player who can go on a hot streak. Any player with pace will enjoy the amount of green grass in behind the Manchester City defense, and his fixtures just after are OK. His preseason goals may be a sign that Ince is maturing into his talent.
Fantrax preview price 7.12m
Philipe Coutinho/Mohamed Salah
Coutinho is fast becoming a candidate for best player in the Premier League. Season on season we have seen improvements from him, and as Klopp has pointed out, he can play a number of positions and play them all very well.
He is in my current FPL squad, but I think he may move out soon. Reportedly, Liverpool have turned down a big offer for him from Barcelona, while other sources claim a deal has been agreed with the player but not Liverpool - tapping up?
The most likely outcome is that he will stay red for one more season. Having said that, when Barcelona or Real Madrid come calling, there are few who can say no to the move. I don’t like to pick players with distractions if I can help it, and right now I’m looking at alternatives.
Salah meanwhile isn’t the player Coutinho is, but he just may be just as good a fantasy player. Playing much further forward, he often finds himself in more frequent positions to score, shoot and assist. A review of the Liverpool v Leicester City match highlights shows Coutinho sitting deep (and more central) in a playmaker role with Salah the more aggressive runner behind the opposition. I suppose the question is what knock-on effect a Coutinho move could have. Would the quality of supply to Salah suffer?
Fantrax preview prices -Coutinho 16.98m, Salah 10.20m
Should Alexis Sanchez move to PSG or Man City, then there may be a short period where Arsenal are looking for his replacement and need a squad member to step up. If that happens, there is no clear 1st choice for the left hand attacking role. The list includes Wellbeck, Walcott, Ozil, Perez, and perhaps Lacazette moving wide to include Giroud central, but the form horse in pre-season is Iwobi.
Wenger gave Iwobi a decent run in the side last season, during the point where Sanchez played as the central attacker. He is improving, and the manager has faith in him. Iwobi’s sharpness in preseason may see him get the nod then if Sanchez leaves, or in a mood finds himself benched. Bit of a gamble, but if the Sanchez situation happens, then he could be a real sneaky pick at 5.5m in FPL.
Fantrax preview price 5.49m
Morata and the Little Pea
News that Morata has agreed a move to Chelsea and Hernandez one to West Ham has me getting ready to be frustrated. We already have a forward choice of Kane, Lukaku, Kun, Jesus, Defoe, Lacazette even Rooney or Benteke among others. There’s too much choice in that list, and now we are adding two more excellent goal scorers.
Morata has much to prove, having failed to fulfill his potential at Madrid and Juventus. He has attributes that should suit the EPL and Chelsea style: great first touch, excellent link play and a cool and calm finishing technique. On paper he should get plenty of chances and score plenty of goals. His 10m price point is interesting. Seeing him play in a Chelsea side who come into the season stronger than Arsenal, I thought he may be higher than Lacaztte. Maybe the .5m saving considers the Champions League fixtures to come in September.
Hernandez meanwhile is a pure poaching goal-scoring forward, one of those players who just happens to find himself in the right place at the right time. He is also a pretty scrappy fella and loved the physical battle of the Premier League last time he was here.
It’s a fantastic deal for an unbelievably cheap price for West Ham. While he may have something still to prove, he has scored goals wherever he has played, and in today’s market he seems a very cheap buy.
With Mark A, Snoddy, Antonio and Lanzini playing in behind him he will receive chances, and he will take many of them. Hopefully that will not include the opening weekend where he returns to Old Trafford for his West Ham debut.
As for FPL, he has been priced at 7m, a price with his proven ability to score in the EPL I’m surprised at. West Ham do play 4 aways in 5, but being one of my favourite players of recent times, I may find it hard not to bring him into my FPL squad.
Fantrax preview prices: Morata 11.50m, Little Pea 9.82m
It’s a case of “goodbye old friend” to one of my favorite recent fantasy players. A rampaging full back who shoots and crosses regardless of whether that is the best choice in the moment is the stuff of true fantasy giants. I have lost count of the weeks, particularly in Yahoo and Fantrax, where he’s provided me with a monster score. Then there were the weeks where his team have been beaten, he played poorly, and he still emerged with 15-20 fantasy points. Bravo Mr Kolarov, and we wish you all the luck at Roma.
Anything in pre-season catch your eye?
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