Who’s got the pedigree to step up to the Premier League this season? As the FPL season draws near, it’s time to consider those new faces coming to the top-flight of English football. This list will be drawing on some big names playing in top European leagues last season, as well as giving you the pick of the relative unknowns that others might miss.
While it’s not the best idea to overload on new players, who may need time to adjust and acclimatise to a new team and a new league, sometimes it’s good to cast the net wide and take a bit of a gamble. For those prepared to face the winds of uncertainty, the upside is great – real value-for-money and differential picks – and the satisfaction of beating the herd to the next set of ‘must-haves’.
Here’s ten new players for FPL in 2018/19.
- Naby Keita, Liverpool MF (£7.5m)
Box-to-box central midfielder who scores, creates and destroys, whats the downside? Probably that you already have Salah in your side.
Keita broke through as a defensive midfielder in a pressing system, then moved forward into a No.8/ No.10 role, putting up great scoring stats, without losing that defensive edge. Pace, goals, tackles, dribbles, clever throughballs – as Schalke Sporting Director Christian Heidel commented, he’s “like two players.”
Klopp has said that Keita will be deployed in a primarily creative role, similar to the ‘free eight’ role that Felipe Coutinho thrived in. Very intriguingly priced, likely-starter, versatile but does commit fouls, picking up 7 yellow and 2 red cards last season.
When checking the stats below, it’s worth remembering that Keita spent around half of 2017/18 at DM and there’s definite potential for beating last season’s output, with Fabinho and Henderson likely to set up as the more defensively-minded members of Liverpool’s midfield. 3 assists in pre-season so far.
2017/18 Statistics (RB Leipzig, Bundesliga)
Apearances: 23 (4)
Shots per game: 1.6
Key passes: 1.4
- Allison, Liverpool GK (£5.5m)
Such was the Brazil number one’s influence at Roma last season that he was considered not only the best keeper, but the best player in any position in Serie A.
World-class stopper, with the ability to keep growing his reputation. 79% of shots saved, at 2.9 saves per game, was bettered only by David De Gea (82%, at 3.1 saves per game) in FPL. Alisson also achieved 79% pass accuracy (compared to De Gea’s 55%), and came off his line an astonishing 41 times to clear the ball.
This meant that Roma conceded 10 fewer goals than the previous season under Woljciech Szczesny, and allowed the defence to play an aggressively high line – two things that Klopp will undoubtedly want to see from his Liverpool side this season.
If the Reds do continue to improve on last season’s defensive displays, their best since 2009/10 under Rafa Benetiz, then investing somewhere in the Liverpool backline could be essential. Keep in mind, however, that De Gea took time to settle at Manchester United during his first season.
2017/18 Statistics (Roma, Serie A)
Goals conceded: 28
Saves per game: 2.9
- Ricardo Pereira, Leicester City DEF (£5.0m)
The Portuguese international full-back is reuniting with Claude Puel, the manager who helped him become one of Ligue 1’s best wing backs during a two-year loan spell at Nice.
Recalled by Porto last season, Pereira scored two and assisted four, creating a total of 35 chances for his teammates and making 48 successful take-ons, amongst the highest in the league for defenders. The fact that he played ten games at right-midfield, underlines his attacking capabilities.
The defensive side of his game looks strong too, a clear upgrade on Danny Simpson, in a Leicester side that produced a less-than-amazing total of 9 cleansheets in 2017/18. Compare Pereira’s 99 successful tackles, at a rate of 3.7 per game, to Simpson’s total of 38, at an average of only 1.5 per game. Better yet, Pereira has an outstanding disciplinary record: all those tackles came at the cost of only 3 yellow cards.
2017/18 Statistics (Porto, Primeira Liga)
Shots per game: 0.7
Key passes: 1.3
- Rui Patricio, Wolves GK (£4.5m)
Highly experienced international keeper and European championship winner. One of seven players to leave Sporting Lisbon after they were attacked by the club’s fans, following failure to secure Champions League football for this season.
77% of shots saved last season, and a goal conceded every 127.5 minutes compares favourably with De Gea at 118.9. Taking into account European football and internationals, Patricio has 5 cleansheets in 26 Champions League appearances and 15 cleansheets in 57 games for Portugal (excluding friendlies), to De Gea’s 13 cleansheets in 34 CL fixtures and 7 cleansheets in 20 for Spain (excluding friendlies).
Good early fixtures, with Wolves only facing two (Manchester United and City) of the Big Six in their first ten matches. Wolves defence was the joint-best in the Championship, and Patricio represents a clear upgrade on John Ruddy.
2017/18 Statistics (Sporting Lisbon, Primeira Liga)
Goals conceded: 24
Saves per game: 2.4
- James Maddison, Leicester MF (£6.5m)
One of the best players in the Championship last year. A technically-gifted 21 year old, with an eye for goal, excellent range of passing, ability to go past players, he earned eight man of the match awards for Norwich in the last campaign.
His 124 chances created was more than any other player in the division. U-21 international, with all the attributes to make the step up to the Premier League look easy.
Not necessarily a direct replacement for Riyad Mahrez, it has been suggested that Maddison will take the number 10 role in a 4-2-3-1. Could take corners and set-pieces.
2017/18 Statistics (Norwich, Championship)
Appearances: 42 (2)
Shots per game: 2.6
Key passes: 2.8
- Felipe Anderson, West Ham MF (£7.0m)
Anderson spent four months out last season with a torn abuductor muscle, starting only nine times in Serie A and completing 90 minutes just six times. Despite this, the player managed three man of the match awards and completed more successful dribbles per 90 minutes than any other player in the Italian top-flight, a good sign of BPS potential.
At Lazio, he was most successful as a number 10 behind Ciro Immobile. Creative, a counter-attacking threat, takes set-pieces, able to put in a tackle, the Hammers may have pulled off a major coup in landing such a talented player, who registered a goal or assist every 150 minutes, over five seasons, in Serie A.
However, his output has declined slightly in the past three seasons, after 10 goals and 7 assists in 2014-15. FPL managers should be wary that the Brazilian is playing his way back to full fitness and will probably see his game-time managed at the beginning of the season.
2017/18 Statistics (Lazio, Serie A)
Appearances: 9 (12)
Shots per game: 1.2
Key passes: 1.8
- Mohamed Elyounoussi, Southampton MF (£6.5m)
23 year old attacking midfielder signed from Basel, notable for two goals and an assist in 7 starts in last season’s Champions League campaign, registering 2.6 shots per game and 0.4 key passes, including a goal against Manchester City at the Etihad.
Also an international for Norway with 4 goals in 16 appearances.
Seen by many as the replacement for Dusan Tadic, the Saints will need Elyounoussi to provide goals from the outset. Hughes did well to keep them up at the end of last season, switching to a 3-4-2-1 formation. Apart from Tadic, no other key players left, and this season will probably be one of consolidation.
2017/18 Statistics (Basel, Swiss Super League)
Appearances: 32 (1)
Shots per game: 3.4
- Andriy Yarmolenko, West Ham MF (£7.0m)
West Ham’s fifth signing of the summer, this 28 year old, left-footed, right winger usually plays as an inside forward, cutting inside the opposing full-back in order to have a shot on goal. Key man at Dynamo Kyiv for eight seasons and Ukraine’s second top-scorer (after Shevchenko), but struggled to hold down a regular place in his debut season at Borussia Dortmund.
Disappointing tally of 3 goals and 2 assists, but promising underlying stats: one shot every 33.6 minutes, beating Antonio (39.9) and Manuel Lanzini (46.5), and bettered only by Arnautovic (32.7) among West Ham players. Also, averaged one chance created every 37.2 minutes, which was significantly higher than any of West Ham’s creative players last season.
Likely to play on the right of the attacking three in Pellegrini’s favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. Given West Ham’s fixtures, probably a better look for the medium-to-long term.
2017/18 Statistics (Borussia Dortmund, Bundesliga)
Shots per game: 1.7
Key passes: 1.6
- Ryan Fredericks, West Ham DEF (£5.0m)
Pellegrini’s first signing at West Ham, the 25 year old is hard-working, lightning quick and full of energy. Should he earn a starting place, the potential for assists is there, having delivered 20 crosses from open play last season and 1.6 dribbles per match.
Former district champion at 100m and youth player at Tottenham, before injury setbacks. Don’t expect too much in the way of goals, he has one in 145 appearances in league football. Interesting prospect, especially if we don’t know who’s starting out of Masuaka and Cresswell on the left flank.
2017/18 Statistics (Fulham, Championship)
Shots per game: 0.6
Key passes: 1.1
- Raul Jimenez, Wolves FWD (£5.5m)
Mexico international, arriving from Benfica on a season-long loan. You might say Jimenez hasn’t lived up to early promise, being limited to the role of impact sub last season – though that was partly due to the incredible form of first-choice striker Jonas (34 goals in 30 league appearances).
Coming off the bench, the forward still managed a goal or assist every 80 minutes. A real poacher, in 2016/17, he needed only 30 shots to score 7 goals, with 53% of shots finding the target.
As a traditional number 9 playing on the shoulder of the last defender, he won’t offer much in build-up play but should enjoy being the focal point for crosses from Jota, Caveleiro, Costa, Neves and others. If he starts, he could put up between 12 to 15 goals for the season, but it’s questionable he’s up to 90 minutes on a consistent basis.
More likely that he’ll be used as rotation alternative and supersub, but worth considering as a budget back-up striker.
2017/18 Statistics (Benfica, Primeira Liga)
Shots per game: 1.5
Key passes: 0.7