Going into the 17/18 Premier League season, there is an absolute raft of different options to choose from in midfield. While there are the elite midfielders to choose from, such as De Bruyne, Mane, Alli and so on, it’s worth looking at the more mid-range midfielders who can prove to be absolute bargains.
With the amount of big name strikers everyone will look to include in their team, these cheaper midfielders could make all the difference in terms of squad balance and value. Here, we’ll have a quick look at midfielders currently valued at 7m or under, focusing on the 5-6m region.
Willian – 7.0m
One name that initially springs to mind in terms of potential bargins in midfield this year is Willian. Available at only 7m, it’s highly likely that he’ll take Eden Hazard’s place in the side for the opening few weeks as the Belgian has missed preseason with an injury, with Pedro also taking a preseason knock.
Willian played second fiddle to Pedro and Hazard last season, mainly coming off the bench towards the end of games and offering a rotation option. He still ended up on 12 goals in all competitions, with 8 of those in the Premier League.
He’s been starting on the left of the front three for Chelsea in pre-season, mainly with Pedro on the right and Batshuayi up front. He managed to pick up a hat-trick against Fulham, also scoring against Arsenal in a comfortable 3-0 win:
Though Hazard will come back into the side relatively early, Willian could well play himself into the side for the long run based on how well he does in a starting berth for the first few weeks. One thing to note with Willian is that he’s a great set piece taker, and will likely be on a fair few free kicks and corners.
Chelsea’s opening fixture is at home to Burnley, so at 7.0m, Willian could easily notch double digits here, providing a great option for the start of the season.
Wilfried Zaha – 7.0m
Another winger coming into the game at 7.0m this season is Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha. He really stepped things up in terms of end product last season, ending up with 7 goals and 11 assists, by far his greatest tally to date.
He enjoyed one particularly prolific run in the first half of the season, scoring two goals and notching 7 assists in 6 games, returning in 5 of them.
As mentioned in our post on how to plan for GW1, it was mentioned that Palace have been playing a 3-4-3 system, with Zaha playing a prominent role in the front three. This could be fantastic in terms of his end product going forward, meaning that he could be a bargain at 7m this season. Palace also have a strong set of opening fixtures, playing Huddersfield (H), Swansea (H), and Burnley (A) in the first four gameweeks.
Dusan Tadic – 6.5m
Southampton’s Serbian playmaker has been a tricky player in Fantasy Football recently. He consistently has great underlying stats, but he didn’t really return as expected last season, notching 3 goals and 7 assists. In the season before that, he scored 8 goals and racked up 13 assists, amassing 157 points.
In terms of stats, he had 2.4 key passes per game, with 66 chances created. Southampton had a real problem putting away their chances last season, with Puel’s side only scoring 41 goals. Austin was ruled out for the majority of the season with a shoulder injury, with Gabbiadini dropping off massively after an impressive start (much to the dismay of FPL managers who brought him in for the double gameweeks).
Southampton have an outstanding start to the season fixtures-wise, so Tadic could be a fantastic shout at a cheap price, playing as the 10 in Pellegrino’s customary 4-2-3-1 system.
Matt Phillips – 6.0m
At one point last season, Matt Phillips was a player that all FPL managers had their eye on, and the majority of them had him in their team. Making the step up from the Championship upon signing for West Brom last season, he racked up 4 goals and 9 assists, with essentially all of these coming in the first half of the season, with injuries really taking their toll in the latter half.
This came during a great run of form for West Brom as they played a bit more of an attacking style which led them to 8th in the league, with Phillips at the heart of it all, being involved in the majority of their attacking returns.
His price has gone up this season due to this run of form, though he could prove a steal at 6.0m considering West Brom’s opening run of fixtures.
He’s been playing in a front three for West Brom in preseason, with himself and Jay Rodriguez flanking Salomon Rondon. He also picked up an assist from a corner in their last game:
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Matt Ritchie – 6.0m
Promoted sides are always a bit tricky when it comes to FPL, though there’s always the potential for massive bargains. Shout out to the likes of Charlie Adam and Odion Ighalo of years gone by.
One potential newly promoted option is Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie. In his last season in the Premier League during his time at Bournemouth, he picked up 4 goals and 8 assists, amassing 119 points as a 5.0m midfielder.
For Newcastle last season, Ritchie was one of their key places as they finished top of the Championship, picking up 12 goals and 8 assists on the right wing. He took his fair share of set pieces, with him scoring from a direct free kick against Nottingham Forest. One thing worth noting with Ritchie is his discipline, or lack thereof; he picked up 10 yellow cards in the league last season.
Ignoring the first match where they host Spurs, Newcastle have a very solid opening run of fixtures, meaning that Ritchie has the potential for some solid returns to open the season.
Tom Ince – 6.0m
Seeing as newly promoted players are quite tricky to predict, here’s another one for ya. Son of the Guv’nor, Tom Ince has been one of the more dangerous players in the Championship over the past few years. Last season, he managed 14 goals and 8 assists for Derby, where he also bagged 12 goals and 7 assists the season before, all while playing on the right wing.
While Derby missed playoff contention by 13 points, Ince was impressive enough to earn himself a move to the club that won the playoffs, Huddersfield.
He’s a very interesting entity at this level as he’s never really kicked a ball in the Premier League, making a handful of appearances at Hull and Crystal Palace a few years ago.
When comparing him to Ritchie, Ince appears to be far more direct, with him being much more of a goal threat. Generally , Ince tends to take a large amount of shots, with 2.9 shots per game last season; the fifth highest in the entire league among players with 30+ appearances. He also managed 2.9 the season before, and 3.8 shots per game in 14/15, albeit with a smaller sample size of matches. For a comparison, 2.9 shots per game would be 11th in the Premier League, more than the likes of Alli and Defoe.
Though he’ll be playing for a relative minnow in the Premier League, having a cheap midfielder who isn’t shy in front of goal is always handy. Plus, Huddersfield have a sea of green for their opening fixtures, meaning that Ince could be a handy facilitator:
Pascal Groß – 5.5m
Another player from a newly promoted team? Oh, go on then. Completing the trio of promoted sides, Brighton’s potential midfield diamond in the rough is Pascal Groß, picked up this summer from Ingolstadt.
Priced at 5.5m, Groß could prove to be a bit of a coup if he continues the creative form that he’s shown in the Bundesliga. While playing for Ingolstadt – who were relegated from the league – he managed 3 key passes per game, while also claiming the most key passes in the entire Bundesliga.
He racked up 5 goals and 4 assists in the league, though it’s absolutely worth noting that the top scorer for Ingolstadt only scored 7 goals. His assist tally has been somewhat hampered by teammates who couldn’t finish their dinner, unfortunately.
In terms of position, he mainly played as their attacking midfielder, though played in a deeper role on occasion. In preseason so far for Brighton, he’s lined up as the number 10 in a 4-4-1-1 system, mainly behind Glenn Murray. He’s notched a few goals already, with him seemingly settling in well, regularly linking up with Markus Suttner, another potential gem that was brought in from Ingolstadt.
He’s also a noted set piece taker, and in the form of the aforementioned Murray, as well as the towering Lewis Dunk, he’ll have some sizable targets for his free kicks and corners.
At just 5.5m, a number ten who created the most chances in the Bundesliga last season seems like it could be an absolute steal, making plenty of room elsewhere in the team as well.
Tom Carroll – 4.5m
It seems weird having a 4.5m midfielder listed here, though Swansea’s Tom Carroll could prove to be a fantastic enabler for sides, allowing you to save money and spend it in other areas.
One key area worth noting here is that he could play in the #10 role for Swansea next season. They’ve picked up the mustachioed Roque Mesa from Las Palmas, who is a deep lying playmaker that likes to sit deep and dictate play. Combine this with the fact that both Leicester and Everton have bid upwards of £35m for Gylfi Sigurdsson, and we could well see Carroll in a more prominent role next season.
He picked up 1 goal and 2 assists in the second half of the season from central midfield, playing a key role in Swansea’s resurgence. With Sigurdsson potentially leaving, Carroll could also pick up set piece duties from their Icelandic talisman.