Long time reader Nick has kindly volunteered his services this season and is off to a flyer! Get around him as he answers many of the questions that have been asked over the pre-season so far.
Yesterday we saw some of the new faces to the Premier League, today it’s time to take a look at the players seeking game time at a different club. The big question is, will these players get the game time they’re after? Will they continue to be fantasy relevant, or indeed become fantasy relevant? Are they good value for the score they will produce? This is where we’ll find out! Today I’ll look at the keepers and defenders…
Mignolet (5.5) – 11.7%
Liverpool have spent £9m over 5 years to sign the 25 year old Belgium international. With Pepe Reina approaching 31 and having previously showed his discomfort with plenty of speculation about his future at the club, is it time for Reina to leave? That’s the big question and one that is necessary to ask when considering Simon Mignolet. At 5.5m, after his spectacular season between the sticks last year and at a big Premier League club, Mignolet looks an absolute bargain! In Liverpool’s recent 4-0 hammering of Preston, Mignolet made his debut for the club and started just as he left off with last year, with a clean sheet. But I’m not 100% convinced, purely because of the world class keeper Liverpool already have. If Reina ends up being transferred, then Mignolet seems like a fantastic pick. But I can see this being like De Gea and Lindegaard fighting it out at Manchester United – eventually someone will be the preferred option, but who will it be? Until then we can only speculate and make a judgment call. Having kept 11 clean sheets last year at a club who finished 17th is a remarkable achievement, which shows his clear fantasy relevance. Now at a potential top 4, top 6 club I can only see the clean sheet numbers rising. Keep an eye on Liverpool’s friendlies and their line up and reassess before the start of the season. If he can attain Liverpool’s number one goalkeeper position, then he will be a fantastic choice for 2013/14!
Mannone (4.5) – 7.4%
Sunderland were always going to need to find a replacement after the gaping hole Mignolet left by making the switch to Liverpool. Having made just 23 appearances at the Gunners in 7 years, he hasn’t had great returns, poor in fact, but when you’re competing with the likes of Fabianski, Szczesny and Almunia it’s hard to make a first team appearance. Ok not Almunia, but take my point. However with a move to Sunderland, and hardly any competition (Keiren Westwood) Mannone should be able to play first team football, something he truly desires. In an interview after he made the switch to Sunderland Mannone said “As I always say, I’m a fighter and I want to fight. If I don’t have the chance to fight, then it’s a bit of problem. I’m not a guy who likes to stand there and look at things from the outside”. From this statement I can gather that he wants to make an impression at Sunderland and wants to play first team football. In 2012/13 he played 810 minutes for a final score of 31, including 3 clean sheets and making 25 saves. Unlike Mignolet, I see Mannone as a certain starter at Sunderland. At 4.5 with a new club Mannone has to be considered, but personally I don’t feel he should be your number 1 goalkeeper. He does however make a fantastic backup keeper who, if Sunderland can defend, will generate some cash with consistent game time.
Schwarzer (5.0) – 1.1%
After being showed the door by Fulham at the completion of last year, the 40 year old was picked up by Chelsea on a free transfer. Schwarzer had a stellar season last year, finishing 6th in terms of overall score for goalkeepers. The Australian played 3240 minutes with a return of 135 points including 8 clean sheets. For anyone who thinks his points return will increase at a top 4 club, think again. In Chelsea’s slender 1-0 victor over the Singha All-Stars Mourinho played two different teams, switching at half time, with Schwarzer not in either of them – Instead, Petr Cech and Jamal Blackman the preferred options. Even at the age of 40 Schwarzer is still a better keeper than Blackman and Mourinho would be aware of that. But unfortunately for the Australian legend he will be playing second fiddle to one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League. Mourinho has stated “I never say this one is the first choice and this one is the second and this one is the third, but of course as a starting point Petr Cech is Petr Cech – he is the best in the world with deference to all the others and Mark knows that he comes to be an important member of the squad”. It is obvious to see that Schwarzer will unfortunately not be given much first team football and will be used as more of a coach to the younger brigade of goalkeepers at Chelsea. Obviously it’s a flat no from me. But certainly if Cech sustains an injury then he may well become fantasy relevant. Until then, pass.
Kolo Toure (5.0) – 5.5%
After years of not playing consistent first team football, Kolo Toure has finally relocated clubs. In a free transfer, Liverpool completed their fourth signing of the summer after the retirement of legend Jamie Carragher. With the future of Martin Skrtel unknown, Kolo Toure may just find what he has been after, consistent first team football. After notching up 44 points from 922 minutes, keeping 5 clean sheets, Toure has shown that he is a fantasy relevant player. With Martin Skrtel reportedly saying he would accept a bid from Napoli, Toure looks like he might be locked in as Liverpool’s center back, alongside Daniel Agger. In Liverpool’s most recent friendly against Preston, Toure was handed his debut and made a solid performance – keeping a clean sheet. Keep an eye on Liverpool’s friendlies and any possible departures/arrivals. If Skrtel goes and Rogers doesn’t buy anyone to replace him, Toure could be of fantasy relevance. In fact I would go as far as to call him a lock.
Figureroa (4.5) – 3.9%
After Wigan couldn’t re-enact the heroics of previous years and avoid relegation, many star players were forced to leave. Maynor Figureroa joined Hull City on a free transfer after making 148 appearances for Wigan, scoring 3 goals. In 2012/13 Figureroa made 33 appearances for a return of 65 points. There is no doubt Figureroa will see consistent first team football in 2013/14, his experience in the Premier League will be insurmountable to Hull and their battle to avoid relegation. But in terms of fantasy relevance, Figureroa isn’t a good option. With Hull’s horrible start to the year (Chelsea away, Norwhich home, Manchester City away, Cardiff home) it will be tough to keep clean sheets and provide good scoring outputs. At just 4.5m Figureroa could be handy bench cover with his consistent game time. As a member of your starting X1 – it’s a pass.
Alcaraz (4.5) – 1.8%
Another player forced to move clubs after Wigan were relegated last year. Alcaraz now finds himself at Everton alongside former boss Martinez. Alcaraz made just 14 appearances last year, scoring 20 points. He was plagued by injury for the entire year, struggling with a groin for most of last season’s campaign. In Everton’s recent friendly against Accrington Stanley, Alcaraz came on as a substitute and impressed the toffees’ new manager, stating after the game “It’s important he got that first game and got to know his team-mates.” However with Everton’s defense working nicely last campaign, I can’t see Alcaraz breaking consistently into the first team, although working with the manager for the past 3 years at Wigan will help his chances of staking a claim to start in Everton’s defense. When it comes down to it, job security is a massive issue and there are far better options out there. At this stage, it’s a no.
Well that’s all the defensive players to move clubs over the summer so far. Keeping track of all the clubs’ friendlies during this time of year is a must, as we can see which players are getting a run and those that aren’t. Particularly keep an eye on Mignolet, Mannone and Toure to see whether or not they get regular game time and if they make an impression on their new manager or not. Anyway that’s it from me for today. Thank you to Matt for letting me write this, has been a pleasure. This is my first article for FPLaddicts and hopefully many more to come!