Welcome back to the final edition (for now) of fresh blood, and there’s plenty to look forward to! Today we analyse the forwards, let’s take a look at what’s on offer…
Valencia (7.0) WHM – Enner Valencia has finally confirmed his transfer to West Ham, and he comes with incredible goal scoring form. It was his move to the Liga MX that propelled him onto the radar, scoring a massive 18 goals in just 23 appearances, winning him the golden boot. This could be questioned due to the lack of quality in the league, however his turnouts at the world cup have confirmed that he has that goalscoring knack. 3 goals in the group stages for a team that got knocked out is mighty impressive, meaning he has now bagged 6 goals in his last 6 games for Ecuador. After starting his career out as a winger, he’s taken a little while to adjust to playing upfront. Coming into the prime of his career at age 25, he seems to be clicking, and if he can bring his goalscoring exploits to the EPL then we may have a bargain on our hands.
His move to West ham seems perfectly timed, with the never present Andy Carroll out for another 4 months. The striker role is Valencia’s to lose, he will be given every opportunity to shine with the team hopefully structured to suit his needs. He will be the main man and if his recent form is anything to go by, he could be in for a great season. West ham’s form is the only concern, yet to win a single pre-season match. Their tough start to the season may force some people’s hands in just giving him a month to prove his worth. At 7.0, he’s certainly one to watch.
Ulloa (5.5) LEI – Who? I was asking the same question, let’s just say he doesn’t look like the type of guy you’d like to run into in a dark alley. Quick background check, he managed 32 goals in 56 appearances for Spanish side Almeira, before moving to Brighton. He proceeded to deliver 26 goals and 8 assists in 58 appearances before Leicester came calling. I’ll be frank, those aren’t numbers that get me hugely excited if you consider they were all notched in the lower tiers of each league. The biggest issue however is Leicester’s opening fixtures, their first 2 months is about as tough a fixture set that you will see, let alone for a newly promoted club trying to find their feet in the EPL. I’d be avoiding him to begin with, see how he adapts to his new surroundings.
Riviere (7.0) NEW – If one thing is for sure this transfer window, Newcastle aren’t going to go down without a fight. They have spent like there’s no tomorrow, and their marquee man up front is Riviere. He may face competition from fellow signings such as Ferreyra (Loan), but you’d think Riviere will get first crack up top. It was clearly Newcastle’s downfall last season, and has been since they lost Demba Ba to Chelsea. So what’s his history like? Admittedly, not great. he managed 14 goals in 44 appearances for French side AS Monaco, notching his most prolific year to date last season. Unfortunately that was on the back of only 10 goals. Safe to say we’d like to see a lot more than that to consider splashing out the 7.0 price tag. There’s no doubt he’s a talent, and if he fires for Newcastle he’s certainly one to consider. There’s just not enough evidence to risk starting with him, especially with the alternatives of Cabella and De Jong in midfield. Pass for me.
Pelle (7.5) SOU – Here’s a transfer that’s got a lot of coverage fpl wise, and it’s for good reason. Pelle made a splash for Dutch side Feyenoord, working under guess who. Ronald Koeman. The pair have now met up at Southampton, both knowing each others styles extremely well. Over the past 2 seasons, Pelle has managed 0.88 goals per game, bettered by only Ronaldo and Messi throughout the whole of Europe. The guy can score, bagging 29 goals and 9 assists in 2012/13, before backing that up with 26 goals and 8 assists in 33 appearances last season. Koeman is building a new look Southampton, and it’s fair to say that a lot of that will be built around Pelle. It’s early days, but the prospects look great.
Southampton’s early schedule is also appealing, meeting just two of last season’s top 8 in the first 12 gameweeks! Investing in their squad doesn’t seem like the worst idea, and with the creativity of Tadic to complement the arrival of Pelle, the two could make a lethal combo. He will be locked on in the Saints best XI, and if you’re investing in a mid-price forward then he seems to be the guy you’d want to be backing. Looks like great value if Southampton can continue to spend their money wisely (and field 11 players in their opening fixture). My only concern is that these mid-price forwards never seem to pay off in fpl. I can’t remember the last one to start the season in a big way, even Bony owners were hurting last year. Certainly got potential to be great value, just be cautious.
Gomis (7.0) SWA – Unfortunately I’m sitting here and thinking, how is he this expensive? It’s a shame, but let’s take a look at the prospects anyway. He has been consistent if not anything else, scoring double figure goal hauls in every one of his last 5 league campaigns. Unfortunately he’s never scored more than 14 goals in a league season. 94 goals in 243 apps for Lyon, with 3 in 12 for France, there’s not much to get excited about. Swansea tend to play just one striker upfront, and with Bony still at the club, I’d be avoiding Gomis to begin with.
Bojan (5.5) STO – By some kind of massive coincidence, just a week ago I was watching Bojan playing for Barca back in 2010/11 and asking myself, what happened to this kid? Now he’s popped up in the most unlikeliest of places, keen to kick-start his career once again. There’s no doubting the guy has talent. He stormed onto the scene bagging 10 goals in a season for Barcelona at the age of just 18, and was unfairly dubbed the tag ‘The next Messi’. Things went down hill from there. He managed only 16 goals and 9 assists in his next 73 appearances, averaging only 27 minutes per game. He was sold to Roma with a buy back clause, scoring 7 goals from 33 apps, once again struggling to nail down a first team spot averaging just 42 minutes per game. He then managed just 3 goals in 19 apps on loan to Milan, you guessed it, averaging a paltry 39 minutes per match. After moving back to Barca he was loaned out to Ajax, scoring 4 and assisting 4 in 26 appearances (56 minutes per match).
So the figures aren’t great, but its been his inability to nail down a regular role that’s often cost him. Surely he can get some consistent game time with Stoke, and with a new challenge in front of him without so much pressure and expectation, things may just turn for him. No doubting it would be a big risk to gamble on him seeing as he hasn’t delivered much at all for 5 years now, but the talent is certainly there. I’d still be giving him time to adjust to the Premier League, however if he turns out to be a regular starter on a wing then certainly consider him for your squads. Arnautovic and Odemwingie may start ahead of him at this stage.
Diouf (6.5) STO – It seems like 50 cent has made it into the Premier League. In all seriousness the former Manchester United player has returned on the back of two solid seasons in the Bundesliga, notching 35 goals and 15 assists in 71 appearances over the past 2 seasons. Not bad numbers playing in one of the top 3 leagues in the world. With Peter Crouch passing his used by date, it’s time Stoke found a new avenue to goal, and they may have just nailed it on the head. A proven goal scorer in a quality league, he will be given every chance to shine.
Stoke’s opening schedule also shines upon the new arrival kindly, facing just one of last seasons top 5 in the first 12 gameweeks. He has prior experience in the premier League and should be handed a starting b irth to kick things off, if he starts well then you’d be crazy not to consider him. I reckon he’s likely to return around the 14 goal mark this season, however you’d be looking at him as a short-term asset. Priced kindly at 6.5, he certainly presents a viable option. Definitely consider, watch him closely during pre-season.
Ideye (6.0) WBM – When you arrive at a club for a record fee, there’s a fair chance that you’ve been brought into play first team football. West brom have thrown a lot at him, bringing Ideye in for around 10 million pounds. It’s a large outlay, but his 45 goals in 107 appearances in the Russian league proves he has a keen eye for goal. Aged at just 25, he should only get better. West Brom’s top goalscorer last season tallied a ridiculously low 5 goals, so you can understand the need for a big man up front. There’s no doubt Ideye can provide that and smash that tally, plus of course he will be a certain starter. However is he worth taking a risk on? I’m not so sure, see how he travels early on.
Zarate (6.5) WHM – Here is another option worthy of some consideration. West Ham have located their weakness up front, and set about fixing it. Coupled with the signing of Valencia, there’s hope on the horizon for the struggling Hammers attack. Zarate’s guile and speed will bring a new dimension to the Hammers play, something they desperately need. He will also bring with him the knack of being inconsistent. 140 appearances in Europe’s major leagues has produced just 31 goals. It wasn’t until his 18 goal season last year in the Argentine league that he’s really proven himself as a goalscorer. He does create chances for team mates however, and he may pick up quite a few assists with Valencia carrying the main goal scoring threat. The verdict would be between one of Valencia or Zarate if you were to go down that path, and Valencia seems the safest option to begin with. He is a player in form, and if Zarate looks the better buy, just trade down to him. It’s much easier to trade down than up, trust me. Watchlist.
Costa (10.5) CHE – He may look like a 40 year old Mexican Drug Lord, but don’t let that fool you. Costa rose to stardom with Atletico last season, scoring a massive 27 goals in the BBVA, third to only Messi and Ronaldo. He also impressed in the Champions league, scoring 8 times in 9 appearances at the highest level of European football. What he brings with him is an incredible goal scoring ability, something Chelsea have lacked ever since losing Drogba (Ironic). His job security is untouchable, Mourinho druels over him. He’s publicly stated that even the squad is shocked at how good Costa is, and he’s proved how good he is around goal with a cracking finish during his first Chelsea outing pre-season. What is even more impressive is it’s not just about the goals, he managed 2 assists in his second pre-season game. Slapped with an affordable 10.5 price tag, there isn’t much downside.
The obvious turn off is his inexperience in the Premier League. His direct competition is Rooney, and it would be a big gamble to take Costa. That being said, it may be a worthy one. Forget Mourinho’s previous record with his strikers, Costa knows how to find the goals and he has a team well capable of supplying him with plenty of chances. With Fabregas now partnering Hazard and countless others, Chelsea look a serious force this season. With an opening trip to Burnley preceding home games against Leicester, Swansea and Aston Villa in the first 6 gameweeks, Chelsea investment seems a must. It’s probably wise to be going safe with Hazard especially with penalties seemingly in his locker, but Costa could be huge. I know there’s a lot of risk involved, but at this stage I’m going to be taking the plunge on Costa. He should be a beast this season. Struggling to split him and Rooney? Por que no los dos?
The following players I do not consider fantasy relevant (Most are players of the future), whether it’s a lack of job security or a lack of potential: Ayoze (NEW), Campbell (ARS), Drogba (CHE), Ferreyra (NEW), Sordell (BUR), Jutkiewicz (BUR), Ter Horst (HUL).
Just some brief info of the above players. I don’t believe Drogba will get much game time at Chelsea. He is there as back-up and to help mentor their struggling strikers. Campbell will feature for Arsenal and I like him, but it won’t be regular enough to select him. If he goes on loan then it’s a different story, but that seems unlikely. Burnley are stocking up on strikers, with Sordell and Jutkiewicz joining from Bolton and Middlesborough respectively. None leap out as options to select with Ings locked on, but it’s feasible that one will partner him with Vokes out injured. Ter Horst is an exciting prospect for the future, joining from a non-league club to ply his trade at Hull. This will be a learning season for him. Ayoze Perez has joined Newcastle for 2 mil, whilst Ferreyra has joined on loan. They both give their squad completely unnecessary depth, but I guess Pardew is taking no risks. Ferreyra is a more exciting prospect, refusing to re-join Ukraine side Shakhtar Donetsk due to political unrest. He has an eye for goal and may feature at some point during the season, as will Perez.
So that sums up the fresh blood for now. I’ll be back just before the season starts to wrap up the remaining transfers that take place from now on, before obviously rounding up the deadline day action during the first international break. Next up we begin our player list analysis, covering all the options yet to be researched in our series so far. Look forward to it! Pre-season is shaping up nicely, we should be in for a great season. Bring it on already!