Yeeeaaaaahhhh! Great to be back. I’m been tasked with the duty of getting my head around some of the new faces you’ll be seeing in the EPL this season, and putting their FPL relevance to the test…
Depay. Midfield. 8.5m
We’ll kick this off with a player who is probably the most intriguing amongst the batch of players to have decided the cold winter of England is where they really, really want to be plying their trade and collecting their cheques from. Memphis Depay chose Man United, over Liverpool and PSG by all reports, as the club who will turn him into the next global superstar, which he’s a fair chance of becoming in time. Whether he’s able to turn it on straight away however is a very big question, and one which will decide for us if we start with him in our teams or give him a wide berth until he settles.
So who is he? Think of a young Eden Hazard / Cristano Ronaldo type (kind of…) who loves the ball at his feet and can hit a ball very well, and isn’t afraid to put that skill to use… A lot… Some of his stats from last season are pretty darn good, but we all need to keep in mind that he’s come from the Dutch Eredivise. There’s been a long record of stars from that league come over to the EPL and struggle at worst, or taken a long time to settle at best. His last season at PSV saw him lead the goalscoring charts with 22 goals from 30 league games, which for a left winger is immense. He averaged 5.4 shots per game, which is a hell of a lot, and hints at an opportunity to learn some control. But, most of them were from good positions for someone with his skill (compared to say Andros Townsend). It’s not like he was taking pot shots from the corner flag (like Andros Townsend). He likes a dribble too… He had the most completed last season with 3 and a bit per game, and was succusful more often than not… His pass accuracy was a very good 77% and he created 60 chances (which is actually down from the 87 in 32 games the season before?!?). The problem lies in that he only notched 4 assists… And only 7 the season before… That could improve. Anyway, you start to see what type of player he is…
The biggest query any of the new United players pose is if they’ll play regularly enough to be fantasy relevant? It’s the same question that hung over the club at the start of last season, and it’s arguably even harder at the beginning of this one. With the influx of absolute quality into their first team, it’s again going to be a bit of a guessing game as to how they’ll turn out for the first month or so. Matt will have a crack at some of these lineups in the coming weeks, but you would suggest that LVG will stick with the 4-3-3 formation that served them well at the back end of last season. As Memphis made his name at PSV wide left, it wouldn’t be a push to think he’ll want to fill that role again. Except they have a fairly handy player in Angel Di Maria who will probably fancy a piece of that action, unless rumours of him going to PSG eventuate. Or there’s Mata who filled this role during United’s successful end to the season and became a vital cog. Depay could very well then be shuffled over the right which he can also play… It’s hard to imagine Ashley Young is better than him?! Or Mata could play on the right? Don’t forget Januzaj is still alive too… Based on that there are some options for LVG, but nowhere near as bad as it will be in central midfield. If I was a betting man, and more on that in coming weeks, I’d think Depay will play more often than not… As the squad stands. You never know who they’re going to buy next!
What I’m not convinced with is that he’ll make an immediate impact. I’m foreseeing some glimpses of absolute quality, maybe the odd goal or two in the first couple of months, which will suck a lot of FPL gaffers in. But he won’t rack up the same sorts of numbers as others in the 8.5m bracket will. If you boil it down, FPL is based on probability v price v options… He’s up against the likes of Ozil, Mata, Ramsey and Eriksen who all have the runs on the board and are getting better with every season. They’re seasoned performers who have a much higher probability of scoring points, for the same cost. I’d be starting with any of these guys before Depay gets a look in. That said, I’ll be happy to eat my words and trade him in if he does buck the odds and start off with a bang! 8.5m is a snip for what he will become.
Payet. Midfield. 7.5m
When a player turned up with the record of “most assists in Ligue 1 last season”, I heard myself let out a “hmmmwha?”. French footy has always had an air of attacking creativity about, rightly or wrongly, so being the king of that jungle always sounds good on ones resume… His tally of 17 assists was also the 4th most of any league in Europe! When I then heard that he created more chances, and by a margin of 23, as well as the most successful through balls of anyone in Europe. I was well and truly interested… He doesn’t mind a goal too with 33 from his past 143 league games over 4 seasons with very respectably consistent tallies of 6, 12, 8 and 7… The last tick for mine is that he was new Gaffer Bilic’s first signing. You always get the feeling that a manager’s first signing defines them. It either makes them, or buries them *cough* Fellaini *cough*. It’s often a player they’ve either managed before or even better, one that they’ve always wanted to manage but never had the means to buy him. Hell get treated well is what I’m getting at.
One other thing to consider is that West Ham have a mountain of games to play before the EPL starts, including the dreaded Europa League. But fair played to them, they earned that. Fair and square. Now the most obvious conclusion to take out of that is that they’ll be knackered by then! Or, another important stance to take is that any issues with gelling in new players and testing Bilic’s playing style could partly be avoided due to the higher the normal opportunity to get out on the park and do it in real games.
With all of this in mind, I think the West Ham team will be built, in part, around Dmitri Payet and that a lot of the attack will go through him. It’s up to him then if he turns up to the “Payet Party”. At this early stage I’m backing him in, and at 7.5m could provide great value.
Deulofeu. Midfield. 6.5m
No. No. No. Not gonna lie… I had him in my first draft team but that was more heart over head. If any of you bothered to subject yourselves to Everton’s preseason friendly against Stoke earlier in the week, then you’d have seen a player well off the pace, seriously unfit and looking like he was sulking at times. Compared to the historically lazy Lukaku (who for the record was the only Everton attacking player to play the entire 90 minutes and actually looked really lively right up to the end) Deulofeu looked shattered after 10 minutes! And did nothing defensively. There was some really poor body language coming from the kid too which is something Martinez will need to stamp out quick smart.
That said… Have you ever been to Singapore? To say it can be hot and humid is an understatement, and some deal with it better than others. I deal with it with one (ha “one”) of the local alcoholic beverages, in a pool, and definitely not running around… His poor body language may well have been directed internally, just in an external manner. He did get in some super positions, it was just his touch deserted him… And, it is just preseason after all… But at this stage he is at the very bottom of the “nope” list and will remain there until he starts and plays a full game during preseason. Until he does that he won’t be starting any EPL games for a while, meaning it’s pointless us picking him.
When he does get his act together… The Deulofeu of 2 seasons ago was sensational! He was exactly what the team needed when our attacking play became stagnated and predictable. He could turn the game with a dip of the shoulder and wild swing of his right boot, as any Arsenal fan can attest to. This kid won the team points and he was seriously missed last season. A point I made a number of times. But what is his best? To be honest, nobody really knows yet. In his last spell on Merseyside he only managed 900 minutes on the park for 3 goals and 4 assists which is decent if you extrapolate that out to 2500+ minutes, being the expectation. His spell on loan at Sevilla last season however was an absolute failure. Taking part in only 17 games for just the solitary goal, their Gaffer Emery then took a swipe at him as we was going back to Barca saying “he doesn’t have the maturity or capacity for sacrifice yet”. Anyone who has seen him play over time can probably see where that is coming from. He can be very, very, very selfish in general play with little to no end product, but you feel the Everton locker room will deal with that. Martinez is also the type who will nurture what he has and help him develop… Basically, the only excuses Deulofeu will have will be himself. If he can get it together then a front 4 of Lukaku, Barkley, Mirallas and Deulofeu could do some serious damage a couple of months into this season, which is about the time he might appear back on our radars.
That’s me for this week! I’ll be back soon to go through a few more.