With the start of the season fast approaching, we at NMA are poring over the fantasy options at each position to help guide you through your FPL squad selections. Below you will find the names I believe to be the best choices for your midfield slots.
Are you seeking a big-money marquee goal-scorer, a bargain-bin bench warmer, or a mid-priced value-for-money option? No matter what type of player you’re after, this article will sort the wheat from chaff to help you stack your midfield with all the right names.
£10.0m and above: Heung-Min Son
There are only five players in this category, each a real-life and FPL stalwart who requires no introduction: Mo Salah (£13.0m), Kevin De Bruyne (£12.0M), Heung-Min Son (£12m), Raheem Sterling (£10.0), and Bruno Fernandes (£10m). If you could afford all five you’d put them all in your team, right?
Well, finite budget means that feat is essentially impossible to accomplish, so I’ll narrow it to just one best-in-class choice: Heung-Min Son. I see the Spurs ace as a guaranteed starter week in and week out, and I think we can expect his remarkable partnership with forward Harry Kane to bear even more fruit this season than last, with loads of goals, assists, and FPL bonus points sure to flow his way.
Of course, the same can be said for someone like Mighty Mo, but since I believe Son’s FPL production will be similar, I’ll take the £1.0m savings and put it to work elsewhere. Honestly though, despite their high price tags none of these guys is likely to disappoint, with the possible exception of Fernandes. For him, I’m betting that the upcoming FPL season will be more like 2021-22 than 2020-21. YMMV, of course.
£8.5m: Jarrod Bowen
Since there is only one midfielder priced at £8.5m, the choice here is straightforward: West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen. At time of writing, 8.8% of FPL managers have brought him into their sides, and after his fantastic 2021-22 FPL season of 12 goals plus 17 assists, it’s not hard to understand why.
His opening day fixture against Man City gives me slight pause, but the Hammers do have three favorable fixtures after that against Nottingham Forrest, Brighton and Aston Villa. This means there is potential for some high scoring games in the opening few weeks. Priced at just £8.5m, last season he outscored all other midfielders in FPL except for Salah and Son, so I can’t blame you if you join the camp of managers tempted by him.
£8.0m: Dejan Kulusevski
Now it’s time to get into the real fun of FPL… actual decisions to make! At £8m there are no fewer than seven mouth-watering options, and I’ve changed my best-in-class pick several times before finally settling on a favorite. The four that stand out to me the most are Dejan Kulusevski, Phil Foden, Mason Mount and Luis Diaz. I think there are some fun conversations to be had in comparing this quartet. Debating between the creativity of Foden vs the driving runs of Mount vs the finishing of Luis Diaz vs the scorching season-ending form of Kulusevski will provide food for thought among fantasy managers the world over.
Currently, FPL managers seem to believe that Diaz is the way to go, with 28.5% of managers locking in the Columbian early, the hamstring injury to Diogo Jota probably increasing confidence in Diaz’s security of starts. However, my personal choice at this price point is Dejan Kulusevski. His link up play with Son and Kane has been phenomenal: Five goals plus nine assists in 18 appearances is a terrific rate of production, and he seemed to only get better as he grew more comfortable with his new/old manager’s style and expectations.
£7.5m: Jadon Sancho
We have a 50/50 choice at this price point: Jadon Sancho or Ilkay Gundogan. Red or Blue. United or City. Ten Haag or Pep. Ok, maybe it’s not quite as straightforward as it seems, but it appears FPL managers have a clear preference for one over the other.
Jadon Sancho (11.7%) has a comfortable lead here, with Ilkay Gundogan (0.9%) being blown out of the water. It’s a strange outcome considering that last year Ilkay outscored Jadon 124 to 91. It’s a testament to the potential of Ten Haag’s side and his likely creative use of Sancho that I think managers are piling on. Sancho’s excellent preseason form hasn’t hurt either. I have to say, I’m also onboard the Sancho-express. Next stop – Goalsville!
£7.0m: Philippe Coutinho
There are five players in this range: Harvey Barnes, Philippe Coutinho, Bernardo Silva, Jack Grealish and Wilfried Zaha. I think Barnes will be solid again, but not spectacular. Grealish earned 86 points last year over a full season and certainly won’t take my money as a midfield option.
Bernardo and Zaha are a pair of creative and interesting attacking midfield options. They scored 155 and 150 points respectively last year, so I do think they’ll probably be solid choices again. However, I can’t look past the fact that Bernardo has been linked with a move to Spain, and Zaha is linked with clubs all over Europe every year. I hesitate to invest early money in contract doubts until the transfer window is closed. Zaha also posted a career-high 14 goals in 33 league games last year, so he may be worth a look once the window has closed. Additionally, Silva has pitch-time risks, and Zaha’s injury record is worrisome.
These concerns, along with the pair of players I ruled out above, mean there’s just one man left standing at £7 million. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Philippe Coutinho. The Aston Villa man returned to the Premier League in January of last year to earn 83 FPL points in 19 game-weeks, meaning his projected full-season return exceeded the actual returns of all of the above players. He takes set pieces, scores goals and gets assists. On top of that, Aston Villa opens the season with a nice run against Bournemouth, Everton, Crystal Palace and West Ham. There is a lot of points potential in those silky Brazilian shoes.
£6.5m: James Ward-Prowse
Options-a-plenty at 6.5 million with some likely high point scorers in 2022-23. Christian Eriksen, Marcus Rashford, Allan Saint-Maximin, Luis Sinisterra, Youri Tielemans, Leandro Trossard, James Ward-Prowse and Martin Odegaard. Again, there are some good options in this price bracket, and I believe this is the sort of range where the right choices can make an FPL season. Depending on available funds, you could end up with a couple of choices in this range and below.
There are a couple of interesting FPL statistics here at this early stage. Rashford currently has the faith of 13.2% of managers, and again I believe the ‘Ten Haag effect’ is a massive reason why. Odegaard scored 131 points last season and Arsenal look like they could be improved this year compared to last, so the Norwegian will certainly tempt a few fantasy managers. My dark horse option in this price bracket could be Trossard. He scored 141 points last season, and only 2.1% of managers have picked him up so far.
All that said, I’m going to go for Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse. Of the eight players at this price, he scored the most points in last season’s FPL campaign. He plays almost every minute of every game, scores goals, gets assists and has one of the best set-piece deliveries I’ve seen since the glory days of a certain David Beckham. All told, I think Ward-Prowse offers great value and barring injury, I can’t see him being out of my team for much of the upcoming season.
£6.0m: Bruno Guimaraes
There are no less than 19 players who sit in the £6 million price bracket at time of writing, so it’s a smorgasbord of opportunity. I believe the bottom end of the FPL market (below 7 million) is a chance to flex your creative muscles and think outside the box.
The five players I like the best are Bruno Guimaraes, Fabio Vieira, Emile Smith-Rowe, Jack Harrison and Gabriel Martinelli. Three of my selections play for Arsenal, and I’m not sure if that is a testament to their recruitment policy, the faith I have in them being an improved team this year, or just some of the competitive pricing FPL has placed on their midfielders.
The problem I have with Arsenal’s midfield is 2-fold: Output and game time. Unsurprisingly, fantasy managers like players who are going to play a lot of minutes, and from those I’m always looking for attacking options who will score and assist. Vieira is the newest addition and is a very exciting prospect, but it is unknown how quickly he will adapt to the speed of the Premier League or how soon he’ll be able crack into the starting lineup. Martinelli is the one who impressed me most last year, and 13.1% of FPL managers agree that he could be the Gunner to have in your team.
Jack Harrison had a terrific breakout season in 2021-22, scoring a mightily impressive 117 points, so I can see him having a slightly improved score this year.
Despite all of this, my selection for the £6 million window is Bruno Guimaraes. 17.9% of managers in FPL agree that the Brazilian maestro is a great option. He adds class and creativity to an ever-improving Newcastle team. He scored five goals in a half-season last year, with the potential to improve upon that rate of production this year. Newcastle will likely continue to add attacking talent, and to continue to flourish under the guidance of Eddie Howe. That should lead to more assists, goals, and FPL points for “the other” Bruno.
£5.5m: Pablo Fornals
Here we have another broad bin in which value comes in many forms. 48 players grace the FPL selection at this price range, so finding output could prove tricky.
However, I have sifted out those £5.5m FPL midfield options that should make your shortlist: Pedro Neto, Jacob Ramsey, Anthony Gordon, Pablo Fornals, Tomas Soucek, Jordan Henderson, John McGinn, Morgan Gibbs-White, Rúben Neves, Thiago Alcántara and Donny Van de Beek. I think these are all players who are either likely to feature regularly, or to score good points when they do make the lineup. For example, Thiago and Henderson won’t likely feature every week but they can produce solid returns when they do.
But my job is to identify the single best choice, and that is Pablo Fornals. He featured in 36 of 38 league games and outscored each of the above-named players with 117 points last season, which was actually a better points-per-£m return than Mo Salah’s. I can see him continuing that strong run of form into the upcoming campaign. Combine the above with a favorable run of fixtures from GW-2 onwards, and his 2% selection means that Fornals offers a good differential option for 2022-23.
£5.0m: Leon Bailey
You will struggle to find value in midfield at this price. At £5 million and below, players tend to be bit-part bench-warmers or very defensive midfielders. While a solid defensive midfielder in real-life can be invaluable, they tend to score poorly in FPL.
That said, I think there are still a few nuggets of gold among the 70+ players available at this price. Moutinho will always chip in with assists and goals due to his naturally creative game, even though last season he was often deployed in a deep-lying midfield role.
Joe Willock looks set to start for Newcastle, but the ambitious Magpies could add more midfielders before the start of the season and render him 6th choice. Declan Rice will play every second he is fit for West Ham, but as a holding midfielder he won’t score well in FPL.
However, my selection at this price is going to come from the second city. Leon Bailey and Douglas Luiz both offer attacking and creative options for Villa in midfield. But Bailey has looked sharp in three starts out of four in pre-season so far. And in the game he didn’t start, he came on for the second half against Man United at the Optus Stadium in Perth, scoring a goal and setting up the second in a come-from-behind 2-2 draw. I can’t look pass Bailey finally hitting his straps for the Villans.
This selection may look premature; it’s easy to over-react to pre-season form. But just stop and consider his overall attributes. Speed, creativity, a demonstrated eye for goal during his days in Germany, and this year, importantly, a full pre-season under his belt.
Last year he was cruelly limited to just 7 starts due to quadriceps, thigh, and ankle injuries. However, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if he stays fit, and with Coutinho, Douglas, et al in support, I expect the Jamaican to prove himself an excellent bargain for fantasy managers looking for a cheap source of FPL points.
£4.5m: Andreas Pereira
I’m not sure if congratulations or commiserations are in order if you have made it this far down the list. Sure, you may be looking for a bench-filler bargain, but come on, I think you have over-spent somewhere along the line and maybe need to re-think that Haaland + Nunez + Ronaldo front 3 that you plumped for.
Still, if you can’t be swayed and are looking for a bargain basement option, I’m nothing if not a creative guide and so I do have a few options from the 55 midfielders at this price.
Okay... few means one — I have one option and will mention a couple of others too.
Jack Colback has Premier League experience and could be handy for Forest in their campaign to stay up. Jairo Riedewald is a solid option for Palace, and keep an eye on the possible transfer of Rory Delap from Man City, as that could change this section dramatically.
Honestly though, for now just do the right thing here and pick Andreas Pereira. The Belgium-born Brazilian midfielder has already made his way into a lot of teams at this price: A whopping 23.9% of managers have drafted the former Man United midfielder. Clearly the mob senses a bargain (or a potential steal of a substitute spot).
Throw into the mix that Fulham has splashed an estimated £10 million for his services, and this 26-year-old maestro could be in for a cracking season.
Which premium midfielder is the best choice for the 2022-23 FPL campaign?
This poll is closed
Kevin De Bruyne
What midfielders have caught your eye in pre-season? Are you looking at players for the short or long term? Do you see one an asset I haven’t mentioned? Is there a player you think could be signed into the Premier League who would make it into your future FPL team? Please log in and tell us in the comments below.