Transfer Prospects: New FPL Midfielders
The Hype Train looks at six promising midfield summer signings from six different clubs and assesses whether or not they will be living up to their own hype at their new clubs. We are focusing on attack minded players, assessing their specialisms, positions, and FPL value we will conclude whether or not they are worth investing some of your precious FPL budget.
The five players that The Hype Train is looking at consist of six players with huge potential for the forthcoming season. These are players that have not played in the 2013/14 season or are new entirely to the Premier League. We start with the very first transfer of the season, Manchester United’s acquisition of Memphis Depay from PSV. Following this up will be a player from the Red Devil’s arch-rivals Liverpool who acquired the services of the Brazilian Roberto Firmino from Hoffenheim. Swansea new boy Andre Ayew will be assessed, with Garry Monk pulling off a masterstroke in getting the diverse former African Player of the Year to ply his trade at the Liberty Stadium after not having his contract at Marseille renewed.
West Ham’s new French acquisition Dimitri Payet is looking to not just fill the boots of the departed Stuart Downing, but exceed them too in Slavan Bilic’s team this year. Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace will be excited to have big-name Yohan Cabaye at Selhurst Park for this season, after a disappointing and underutilised term at PSG he returns to familiar ground under the tutelage of former Newcastle boss Pardew. And lastly, and speaking of Newcastle, we look at the potential of Georginio Wijnaldum, and if the magic of ‘The Gini’ can also be a wellspring of FPL points for aspiring managers.
The benchmark for all attacking midfielders is Eden Hazard who was last year’s top FPL player, and we will be looking at the potential for these other players to break into the top ten midfielders. Here is a reminder of what the top ten midfielders from last season were, as we look to see where these six midfielders may fit into the mix.
Eden Hazard – Chelsea – 233 points
Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal – 207 points
David Silva – Manchester City – 191 points
Santi Cazorla – Arsenal – 168 points
Cesc Fabregas – Chelsea – 165 points
Jordan Henderson – Liverpool – 162 points
Christian Eriksen – Spurs – 162 points
Nacer Chadli – Spurs – 160 points
Raheem Sterling – Liverpool – 158 points
Gylfi Sigurdsson – Swansea – 154 points
Memphis Depay (MUN)
Club: Manchester United
Club’s Ambition: Top Three (but the fans are optimistic that "it's our year!")
Club’s End of Season Reality: Top Four
FPL Position: Midfielder
Potential Positions: LW, RW, CAM/CF, ST
Starting FPL Price: £8.5 Million
Potential Specialisms: Free Kicks
Memphis is the new Red Devil, a Dutch wonder-kid in a victorious PSV title winning team in last year’s Erderverse. A knack for goals and sharp eye for set piece situations, as well as thunderous pace has seen Van Gaal collect a gem for his squad this year. FPL managers will be hoping he is what makes the Man United forward tick once more in their quest to challenge for a place in the top three.
Here is how Memphis sits in comparison with other ‘attack, attack!’ minded united players.
As you can see Manchester United this term have a few options to play in their midfield, this also doesn’t include Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger who they have also added into the ranks and ultimately provide competition for goals in the team. Here is also how the points stack up for the midfielders based on the 2014/15 season.
Juan Mata – 138 points
Angel Di Maria – 107 points
Ander Herrera – 98 points
Morgan Schneiderlin – 90 points
Ashley Young – 89 points
Depay should be aiming for the top five midfielders this season, especially with United’s desire to challenge for the league title he will need players such as Depay to have the impact that Hazard and Silva have for Chelsea and Manchester City respectively. A minimum of 180 points is required to reach these heights, and there is some hope Depay may be in line for a big season at Manchester United akin to the season that Alexis Sanchez had for Arsenal last term. In the pre-season line-ups Depay has been playing a forward role with Wayne Rooney in the Red Devils attack, there is also his free-kick ability which might make him a tantalising prospect for managers.
Not to dampen the mood the potential of Depay reaching these heights might be unlikely, especially with how as a whole United midfielders struggled last year to enter the top ten, with Juan Mata the eleventh best midfield option last year. Our best hope for Depay reaching the expected heights is for Luis Van Gaal getting the best out of the youngster, in retrospect the likes of Hazard and Silva are established Premier League giants, and if Di Maria struggled in a Red Devil’s shirt what is to say that Depay won’t follow suit. In recent seasons we have had to keep our expectations of Man United midfielders in check for good reason.
Overall we believe that Memphis Depay will achieve around the 150 point mark for the 2015/16 season if he gets off the ground quickly, he won’t start every game due to champions league rotation and Van Gaal’s nature to tinker with his midfield. Memphis will be a solid pick due the likelihood he will be playing an advanced role. Out of the six midfielders here detailed in this article we believe that he will have the strongest season out of the six.
Roberto Firmino (LIV)
Club: Liverpool FC
Club’s Ambition: Top Four
Club’s End of Season Reality: Top Six
FPL Position: Midfielder
Potential Positions: CAM/LW/RW/ST
Starting FPL Price: £8.5 Million
Potential Specialisms: None
Brendan Rodgers has been busy in the transfer market once again this summer, and the one signing that has all Reds supporters excited is the acquisition of Roberto Firmino. The thought of Coutinho and Firmino operating on the same pitch has many tongues wagging for this season, but how does that translate over to points to FPL managers? We’ll look to see if the pricey Brazilian who can play anywhere along the frontline is truly worth the risk considering that there is serious competition for attacking midfielders from other clubs priced the same as him, i.e. Cazorla and Eriksen.
This is how Roberto Firmino currently fits into the other FPL options currently at Liverpool.
Roberto Firmino comes into Liverpool’s new-look midfield as its most expensive option at £8.5mil, and at the price the club paid for the Brazilian’s services we expect him to get as many minutes as possible throughout the season. Or do we? We know Firmino will play a major attacking role, but currently during pre-season Adam Lallana has found some serious form, which might force Brendan into playing him over the Brazilian at the beginning of season, with Firmino yet to actually train or play alongside his new team-mates after an extended break following Copa America. Firmino (and Coutinho on that matter) may very well be given a bit of breathing room before their season starts, perhaps a couple sub appearances to get accustomed with the team. Another blow to consistently getting in the team will be the Europa League, and the risk of rotation the will being the club. Ideally Firmino should play the league games, but if Liverpool progress in Europe then that could change.
Firmino will not get all thirty-eight starts this season which may actually not justify his hefty price tag for FPL managers who will be looking at consistency from their expensive midfield options. On the other hand Firmino’s biggest strength is that he could be played just behind Benteke or Sturridge (when not injured) which could mean he is always amongst the goals, and when he does play he may be up there in the minds of FPL managers.
Here is how Liverpool’s top performers scored in last year’s FPL season:
Jordan Henderson – 162 points
Simon Mingolet – 149 points
Phillippe Coutinho – 134 points
Nathaniel Clyne – 142 points
Martin Skrtel – 124 points
James Milner – 107 points
Adam Lallana – 93 points
Liverpool’s points potential is always there, and this year with the addition of Clyne and Benteke there are more options than ever to choose from. When we did our season preview for Liverpool we concluded that the only four serious FPL options for managers from the Reds came in the form of Jordan Henderson, Nathaniel Clyne, James Milner, and Phillippe Coutinho. This was due to the fact that these players were going to play every game, and were reasonably priced. Henderson and Milners price when compared to Firmino may be the biggest factor as to why he is not selected by a majority of FPL managers. One other major factor is that at any time not many FPL managers will not consider having three Liverpool players in their team due to their patchy run up to begin the season, so assessing other options in the team such as Clyne and Henderson has become priority for FPL managers to ensure that they have the likes of Hazard and Silva in their teams who offer a greater level of consistency that most Liverpool players do not.
A lot could change for Liverpool this term, or it may not. Firmino has a question mark over his head to begin the season with as we are not convinced he will actually start the opening day against Stoke at the Britannia Stadium. With as many options in midfield as Liverpool do it wouldn’t be surprising to see Firmino amass between 110 and 130 points for this season if he is to be a success. Points in the midfield could be spread across three or four players this year at Liverpool, but FPL managers won’t consider Firmino until they know he has a starting berth in the main eleven as his price cannot justify anything less. The Firmino hype-train is a process of patience to see if he delivers on his personal price tag and can compete alongside the likes of Depay, Yaya Toure, Santi Cazorla, and Christian Eriksen who are all priced the same as Liverpool’s new Brazilian.
Andre Ayew (SWA)
Club’s Ambition: Top six
Club’s End of Season Reality: Top Eight
FPL Position: Midfielder
Potential Positions: LW/ST/CAM
Starting FPL Price: £7.0 million
Potential Specialisms: Heading ability
After being linked with some of the top clubs in Europe the former Marseille man had touched down in Wales to begin a career in the Premier League under the guidance of the revered Gary Monk. The Hype Train’s thinking is that the assurance of game time in an aspiring club was the key factor for him signing on the dotted line for the Swans. Ayew’s arrival at the Liberty Stadium came as a huge surprise for everyone, but none more so than the FPL manager who quite rightfully sees the potential for huge FPL points from the former African Player of the Year at a reasonable price.
This is how Andre Ayew fits amongst the established Swansea midfielders.
Andre Ayew is a very diverse player, and this season could play as Swansea’s new CAM, pushing Sigurdsson further back in midfield where the Icelander can control the play and passing, with Montero starting on the left where Ayew would otherwise normally play. Ayew is also a presence in the box and his heading ability is well-known and will be well admired by Monk who will want him in those areas every game, everyone remembers the headed goal he scored against Germany at the 2014 World Cup. Ayew is quick, a good passer, very physical, can head the ball, and a proven scorer, so CAM would be his ideal position supporting the main striker in the Swans 4-2-3-1 formation. He can also play on the left-wing or as a striker so the potential for him to always score is there, which is why we are excited to have Ayew in the FPL even though there is an inherent danger his position may frequently change (similar to Depay), but that in itself may not be a bad thing.
There is a lot of competition amongst the Swansea midfield, and also for Swansea players in general for FPL managers, adding a touch of doubt to whether he is the best option to have in your team. Let’s look to see how the established Swansea players faired in their best season yet.
Gylfi Sigurdsson – 154 points
Lukasz Fabianksi – 151 points
Ki Sung-Yueng – 129 points
Ashley Williams – 118 points
Neil Taylor – 109 points
Jonjo Shelvey – 99 points
Nathan Dyer – 85 points
Bafetimbe Gomis – 84 points
Wayne Routledge – 81 points
Jefferson Montero – 80 points
Because Swansea are not a top-four team FPL managers will shy away from having too many Swans players in their teams, they will tactically pick the best option based on position, price and potential. Williams (£5.0), Fabianksi (£5.0), Gomis (£7.0), and Sigurdsson (£7.5) are going to be in the minds of FPL managers already so Ayew faces stiff competition from his own team mates, and at present isn’t guaranteed a starting berth in their line-up until we find out the line-up Monk chooses for the away day at Chelsea. At £7.0mil it may seem like a big price for the Swan in comparison to his team-mates, for £7.0mil he also could easily be a surprise package if played in the right position, but with Jordan Henderson at the same price makes it a huge leap of faith to put your money into the Ghanaian this season. Finding out if he actually has a place in the team could also just be as important, but we believe he should be starting every game for the Swans and most likely will be.
Having Sigurdsson playing a deeper midfield role like he does for Iceland and Ayew allowed to play further forward is what we all want, and will be hoping that is the case. The good thing to know is that because Swansea face Chelsea on the opening day the decision for Swansea players entering their teams will take place during gameweek two when they host Newcastle at the Liberty Stadium, and then going to their Wearside rivals the following week. Swansea has a favourable run to kick off their season which makes Ayew as an option very viable for managers.
Ayew should be aiming for anywhere between 120 and 150 points this season, and without any European football at Swansea this year they can focus on the league and try pick up as many points as possible and lock down a straight forward team that is devoid of rotation. Our conclusion of Ayew is that he is an incredibly wise pick for your team and will offer a lot to the Swans going forward. He will play most games and has a knock for both goals and assists. The Hype Train believes that from gameweek two onwards you should think about jumping on the Andre Ayew bandwagon.
Dimitri Payet (WHU)
Club: West Ham
Club’s Ambition: Top Eight
Club’s End of Season Reality: Upper Mid-Table
FPL Position: Midfielder
Potential Positions: CAM/LW/CF
Starting FPL Price: £7.5 million
Potential Specialisms: Free Kicks
West Ham is now piloted by Slavan Bilic, their former defender and true Hammers admirer. Replacing Sam Allardyce who guaranteed Premier League football when he took over was going to be no easy job, and whilst some fans grumble in discontent over Slavan’s managerial record one thing is for sure: getting Diego Payet to sign from Marseille was superb business from the Croatian manager.
Here is how Payet shapes up next to his fellow West Ham midfielders:
Payet can play either his favoured central attacking midfield role, or out wide. We expect him to be occupying the space behind the main striker, renowned for his crisp passing and assist record the Frenchman could very well be a player that not just replaces the expectations of Middlesbrough bound winger, but exceed them. Payet was wanted by a host of clubs, and is bound to play every game that he is not injured or suspended. Payet has been one of the most consistent players in the past two years in Ligue 1 and featured in their 2014/15 team of the year. Out of the other West Ham midfielders he is the standout guy, don’t be surprised if everything goes through him this year for the Hammers. The French chance taker and creator could be a true gem of this year’s FPL season and that has managers all over excited over Payet’s inclusion.
West Ham’s top contributors from last season were as follows:
Stuart Downing – Now at Middlesbrough
Adrian Castillo – 142 points
Aaron Creswell – 129 points
Diafra Sakho – 98 points
Cheikhou Kouyaté – 98 points
Enner Valencia – 94 points
Carl Jenkinson – 94 points
Mark Noble – 89 points
Kevin Nolan – 62 points
Downing’s departure means Payet has big shoes to fill, and will be expected to play in a predominantly attack minded positions to get the best out of the strikers, so he will always be in and around the goals. Payet is also fond of getting behind a free kick and delivering a dead ball into the box, and with the record the Hammers have for headed goals he might just be the man to expose their biggest strength this season. We all want Payet in our teams for these moments, all of us.
The biggest shadow for keen FPL managers will be the truth that West Ham’s away record is somewhat patchy, Payet will be operating in a team that in the past gets the majority of their points playing at home. Their historic away records against teams such as Manchester City, Arsenal, Newcastle, Tottenham, and both Merseyside teams Liverpool and Everton are not kind reading for Hammers supporters. A 96th minute penalty scored by Kane deprived them of probably the only chance West Ham had at lifting the curse on their torrid away form last season, it was brutal television. Payet being priced at £7.5mil, two million more than his comparative midfield options, leaves doubt as to the worth in investing in Payet. There is a huge risk that Payet may fall under the Hammers curse and be absent in most of their away games, but on the flipside be clinical at home games. Payet is a quality player but this may be the very reason nobody decides to utilise him as they may need to rotate him, and at his price that isn’t feasible after you take into account all of the other midfielders you could have in your team that are potentially more reliable in all games.
The Hype Train expects Payet to achieve a haul of anywhere between 110 and 160 points as we are uncertain where West Ham’s season is heading under Bilic whose previous records aren’t as glittering as you’d assume. That won’t deter from the fact that when he is playing Payet will be instrumental to their style of play, and during home games we will always be looking at him as a good option to have in our teams.
Yohan Cabaye (CRY)
Club: Crystal Palace
Club’s Ambition: Top half of table
Club’s End of Season Reality: Somewhere mid-table
FPL Position: Midfielder
Potential Positions: CAM/CM/CDM
Starting FPL Price: £6.5 million
Potential Specialisms: Free Kicks & Penalties
Just when you think you’re about to write off Crystal Palace they go and sign one of the most highly rated French midfielders that has graced the Premier League before. Yohan Cabaye is the only player out of the six that has prior FPL statistics, and before his sale from Newcastle to Paris St Germain they were incredible. Cabaye was the engine to the Toon, giving them a cutting edge with his insane free kicks that any keeper in the league threated over. When he left Tyneside his former club struggled without him and dropped off the radar entirely and last year without a replacement for his skills they nearly got relegated, which was just how good Yohan Cabaye is.
Yohan Cabaye helps form one of the most appealing midfield selections for any team this year:
Let’s also look at Crystal Palace’s top performers from last season:
Yannick Bolasie – 132 points
Jason Puncheon – 128 points
Julian Speroni – 115 points
Scott Dann – 105 points
Wilfried Zaha – 91 points
Joel Ward – 90 points
Mila Jedinak – 86 points
Joe Ledley – 81 points
James McArthur – 79 points
Glenn Murray – 70 points
Cabaye is able to operate anywhere in the centre of the pitch, dropping deeper to play defensive midfield or sitting behind a striker and methodically distributing them passes like a robot. There are two realities for Crystal Palace fans and FPL hopefuls, one good, one not so great but ok. If rumours are true and Yannick Bolasie is to be used as their first choice striker then we can rejoice in knowing that you’ll have Cabaye sitting behind him doing what he does best. People who are writing Crystal Palace off forget that Selhurst Park is a complete dream killer and top-six graveyard, and with the technical skills Cabaye brings to the table more teams will be sighing at the thought of having Bolasie and Cabaye tormenting their defences. ‘Liverpool might as well not show up and forfeit’ is the direct quote from the Liverpool supporter in our ranks. Option two is also good for Crystal Palace fans, but not so good for FPL managers. Currently Crystal Palace have been looking to sign another striker as the majority of their goals and involvement come from the midfield, and if they get their man this could force Cabaye back the defensive midfield alongside McArthur or Jedinak whilst Puncheon, Bolasie, and Zaha operate in and around the new striker. We don’t have to be mind-readers to see that one of these two options will unfold; you’ll just have to be cautious that if a new striker does arrive the points potential for Cabaye is indefinitely questioned and if he is truly the best option out of all the Crystal Palace players, particularly their midfielders.
The Eagles midfield has managers all over salivating by its potential, not particularly by the tricky first-ten game run in, but what is there on offer. Crystal Palace might be a team that blossoms later on in the season, and Cabaye could in contention for a place in your teams at the reasonable price of £6.5mil. This represents much more value most of the midfielders detailed in this article as Cabaye is going to start every game he is fit or not suspended without European intervention, always putting him on the radar of managers, and with his dangerous set piece and penalty potential he should be. In both options I listed above his biggest competition for selecting him is Bolasie who is going to only play a forward role, be it either as a striker, winger, or attacking midfielder and being exactly the same price as Yohan. Puncheon might also frustrate admirers of the Frenchman if free kick duty is divided amongst them. Cabaye could be playing a similar game to Swansea’s Sigurdsson, playing deeper and roaming forward on the attack when necessary.
The Hype Train’s conclusion of Yohan Cabaye is that he should be looking to have a similar kind of season that Sigurdsson had last season and try hit as close to the top ten midfielders as possible and amass somewhere in the region of 140 to 170 points, this may depend if Pardew’s Palace are found out or if Cabaye is the key to have them move further up the league table this season. The main thorn in selecting Cabaye will also be how good of a season Bolasie is having, as currently he is still Palace’s best option on paper. We’ll have to wait and see how the start of the season unfolds for the Eagles, but this is good news for FPL managers who may be acting patient with Palace this term and looking for when a clear run of games for points becomes available. We firmly believe that Cabaye is worth the investment into your team at one point or another during the course of the season, perhaps not all of it though. Should he repeat the impression he made on Newcastle during his time there then we cannot ignore Cabaye as an FPL option for this season for Crystal Palace.
Georginio Wijnaldum (NEW)
Club’s Ambition: ‘Champions League position and Cup Winner’ – Mike Ashley
Club’s End of Season Reality: Mid-table to Relegation
FPL Position: Midfielder
Potential Positions: CAM/CM/CF
Starting FPL Price: £7.0 Million
Potential Specialisms: Penalties
Newcastle’s first summer signing is the focus of the sixth and final midfielder we look at in this article for the upcoming season. ‘The Gini’ they are already heralding him as was Steve McLaren’s first statement of intent for the club, but in The Hype Train headquarters we are talking about so much more, and most of it hinges on if whether or not Gini is to be the only statement of intent made by the manager who claimed that may be resorted to ‘coaching Newcastle out of bad times’.
Here is how Gini lines up in comparison to the other major Newcastle midfielders this season.
Gini is an attack minded midfielder, utilised in an array of positions by PSV last year. He could play the attacking midfield role, sit behind the main striker Luke De Jong (also formerly of Newcastle), play as a second striker, or sit deeper in the standard centre of midfield. The Gini is a very direct player, and is adapt at anywhere in the middle of the park, and also a solid leader of men, and his main FPL specialism could be on spot kick duties after having a strong track record as PSV. Let’s see how Newcastle’s main men scored last term, we have also added their other influential players in there team as well.
Daryl Janmaat – 118 points
Jack Colback – 114 points
Moussa Sissoko – 104 points
Tim Krul – 99 points
Ayoze Perez – 98 points
Papiss Demba Cisse – 97 points
Remy Cabella – 71 points
Yoan Gouffran – 67 points
Siem De Jong – 10 points
Newcastle’s midfield options last year were the main source of their points but in comparison to other options they did not score highly enough to be considered in FPL managers teams (especially in the latter half of the season), only Janmaat was considered as the strongest option. If Gini is to be all that he is cracked up to be then he could revitalise the midfield of the Toon, we are not doubting his quality as a player, but in terms of FPL points we are not so sure that we should expect anything as of yet from Newcastle. The Toon Army supporter in our ranks believes that as it currently stands with only twenty days until the start of gameweek one he would be lucky to hit 100pts.
Gini’s success at Newcastle this season will boil down to a host of other factors surrounding the club, which all-in-all makes Gini the most unappealing of these six players to consider for your team. The glaringly obvious reason is down to where he could be playing; in the past Newcastle has utilised a 4-2-3-1 formation that we don’t see them dropping. Siem De Jong is odds on to be playing in the spot behind the striker, which leaves Gini to sit deeper with Jack Colback in the centre of the field. In this position we can see Gini being the midfielder to carry the ball and spur on the attack, so we can expect him to be involved in and around the play for goals, but sitting deeper may limit his chances for points. With that logic Siem De Jong might be better option and a cheaper one too, also De Jong might also be on penalties if he is fit enough to play and not hampered by injuries like last term.
In an ideal world Gini should be sitting behind the striker and playing to his strengths, so FPL managers will be hoping De Jong will be dropped for this to happen. Second factor, and one which links perfectly to the last point, is the pricing of Gini. At £7.0mil FPL managers may consider other options ahead of Gini, perhaps not at Newcastle but in other teams where consistency is more guaranteed, for example at the same price you can get Jordan Henderson who is a proven FPL option to have in your teams and in the top ten midfielders last year. The price of Gini may be too much for managers to even consider him, and if you did choose him you would have to commit to playing him every game and at the moment Newcastle cannot guarantee consistency having being earmarked for potential relegation early on by pundits.
Further to this we have to be realistic with how many Newcastle players we are actually going to have in our teams throughout the season. At the moment managers will only likely risk one place of their fifteen going to the Toon, and based off pricing and potential Gini may not be the best option. Janmaat and Krul are viable options for managers and Ayoze Perez might be utilised as a cheap third striker in some teams. Gini might forever be a wildcard this season, and if you compare him to other options in this article such as Cabaye and Ayew you would consider those players better options at their prices in your teams. The club itself also adds the final blow to our analysis of Gini’s potential, and as already stated there is only twenty days until kick-off for the first game and Newcastle still haven’t locked down their target-man striker or an entirely new defence to replace what is currently there. If the Toon doesn’t sort out their defensive and striker options then FPL managers may see no clean sheet potential or assist potential if they can’t score this season. Newcastle fans are desperate to land a striker with enough presence in the box, which may also pose a currently unseen threat to choosing Gini as the Newcastle player in your team. Let’s say hypothetically if they were to sign Charlie Austin from QPR he would become the player that most FPL managers would seek to find room in their teams for. Given if that is the case Austin, Janmaat, and Krul might be higher in the pecking order for potential this year at Newcastle, leaving Gini in the position of eternal wildcard.
The Hype Train’s conclusion of Gini is that unless you're very, very brave Gini is the least likely to be a player in your teams for this season from the six detailed in this article. This isn’t anything to do with the quality of the player, but due to the hundred other factors surrounding Newcastle at the moment and the uncertainty at the club. We don’t know how the season is going to unfold, but based on the current situation at the club we don’t see much changing for them, which for us doesn’t make Gini a viable midfield option despite all of the potential until Newcastle sort out their problems and make us rethink their ability to score us valuable FPL points.