Analysing the full potential of the 10 most-expensive Dream Team midfielders
Midfield proved to be a tricky area for Dream Team managers to negotiate last season.
With Man City’s rotating cast of stars taking turns in the spotlight, several frustrating injuries, and unexpected success stories (hello Nicolas Pepe), gaffers were often left chasing their tails.
In hope of setting things right from the off this coming season, let’s analyse the full potential of the ten most-expensive midfielders…
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As last season’s outright best midfielder by a huge margin, Bruno Fernandes (£6.5m) is deservedly the most-costly player in his position ahead of the new campaign.
Man United’s talisman amassed 94 points more than the next-best midfielder.
In fact, he banked more points than Ilkay Gundogan and Youri Tielemans combined!
Fernandes may have endured an underwhelming Euro 2020 campaign but he’s an entirely different beast in club colours.
What his critics hate to admit is that even if you discount the penalties – and there have been plenty of them in recent seasons – his stats still put him among the most effective attacking midfielders in Europe.
Kevin De Bruyne (£6.0m) is just a fraction cheaper and, like Fernandes, is almost a must-have asset when fit.
Statistically the best playmaker the Premier League has ever seen, the Belgian averages just under 13 league assists per season.
Though the pair would set you back £12.5m, there’s certainly a case of selecting both Fernandes and De Bruyne in your XI – if you have to save money in defence, so be it.
Phil Foden (£5.5m) is up next as the man who finished 94 points behind Fernandes to end up as the second-best midfielder in Dream Team last term.
The 21-year-old registered 16 goals and ten assists in a sensational breakout year, starring in several high-profile Champions League fixtures.
As with any Man City asset, there will occasionally be frustrating moments caused by Pep Guardiola’s rotation policy but Foden has shown he has the talent to cash in when on the pitch.
Riyad Mahrez (£5.0m) is the only midfielder in his price range after neatly ending 2020/21 with 200 points to his name.
The Algerian’s points came in spells with his late-season peak prompting a huge surge in popularity – that’s what three goals over two Champions League semi-final legs will do.
It took a while for Mahrez to gel with his Man City team-mates and while rumours of impending signings may make others worry about their place in the pecking order, the ex-Leicester winger is quite clearly the best option on the right flank currently.
Mahrez’s ownership sits at a modest 7.4% at the time of writing – a figure which should interest those in search of underrated gems.
To finish the top ten most-expensive midfielders, we’ve got a six-way tie of players valued at £4.5m:
- Ilkay Gundogan
- Paul Pogba
- Raheem Sterling
- Jack Grealish
- Mason Mount
- Jadon Sancho
This list contains a few potential trapdoors.
For example, while Fernandes dominates club football to make up for subdued international performances, Pogba operates in the exact opposite manner.
The 28-year-old’s talent is undeniable, as evidenced by his Euro 2020 exhibitions, but he’s blown hot and cold since returning to Man United in 2016.
There are better options in his price range.
Gundogan may be the man to suffer if Man City confirm the signing of Grealish – which could be any moment now.
The German enjoyed the best season of his career in 2020/21, scoring 17 goals in all competitions after adopting a Frank Lampard-esque role, but whether he will be tasked with the same job again remains to be seen.
Gundogan has always been a favourite of Guardiola’s but it’s likely he may return to a more conservative role which would limit his Dream Team returns.
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As for Grealish himself, he is an excellent option no matter where he’ll be playing this season.
Before a shin injury curtailed his campaign, he was consistently among the top Dream Team midfielders and in terms of chances created, fouls won and successful dribbles, he is a top-tier playmaker on a continental scale.
Guardiola may encounter a similarly luxurious problem as Gareth Southgate if Grealish signs as the latter operates best from the left – as do Foden and Sterling.
The latter was England’s best attacking player en route to the final of Euro 2020, scoring three decisive goals.
However, Sterling lost his way in City blue at the end of last season and will surely find himself on the bench in no time at all if he’s unable to transfer his international form to the Etihad.
Sterling’s ownership of 23.3% feels a tad high when considering every factor.
While others in the £4.5m price bracket have asterisks next to their name, Mount provides reliability.
Most expect Chelsea to be strong from the get-go as they aim to build on the Champions League triumph that capped an excellent start to Thomas Tuchel’s tenure.
The Blues’ homegrown midfielder is improving every week and is guaranteed plenty of minutes for a team hunting trophies on multiple fronts.
Finally, Sancho is something of an unknown prospect in that he is yet to play in the Premier League but his numbers for Borussia Dortmund were nothing short of outstanding.
The best Dream Team midfielders provide goals and assists by the lorry-load and that’s exactly what the England winger has done since leaving Man City.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have been crying out for a specialist right winger and in Sancho they have acquired one of very best in Europe from a statistical viewpoint.
Sancho currently features in 30.9% of teams, making him the fourth-most popular midfielder in the game.
If you are prepared to invest heavily into midfield, a foursome of Fernandes, De Bruyne and then two of Mount/Grealish/Sancho seems most appealing at this stage.
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