Five FPL bargains ahead of the 2016/17 Premier League season

After weeks of being glued to the latest transfer news, following every twist and turn that the summer transfer window offers year upon year and praying for that one far-fetched transfer rumour to somehow come true, barring any inevitable last minute business in the frantic upcoming weeks the bulk of Premier League squads are more or less geared up for the first half of the season. And with only a matter of days to go until the start of the 2016/17 Premier League season, for those who think they know the game better than the actual managers themselves it is now time to prove their worth. A new season, a new challenge and a new edition of Premier League fantasy football.

Luckily for you, unlike Dick Advocaat, Tim Sherwood, Garry Monk, Steve McClaren, Rémi Garde, and Roberto Martinez, a disappointing 2015/16 season does not conclude with the sack. Instead like Louis Van Gaal’s infamous philosophy, Liverpool’s ‘great character’ under the enigmatic Brendan Rodgers and the astonishing statistic that Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City only managed an embarrassing seven points out of a possible forty-two against teams in the top eight yet somehow finished in the top four, footballing failures of the previous season are long forgotten and a new beginning awaits. The time is now to therefore make use of the fresh start, new hope and renewed optimism, to regain focus ahead of a gruelling season and to turn tragedy into triumph as let’s be honest, whether there’s money riding on it or simply just bragging rights, nobody enjoys being dat guy at the bottom of the league two seasons in a row.

Whilst sacrifices are inevitable in every Fantasy Football side to accommodate the more expensive players on the market, with only £100m to spend everybody loves a player that represents great value for money and securing reasonably priced player early on can prove to be a game-changer throughout the course of the season. With this in mind, @ASelbyInfo has cast his eye over this season’s players list and has picked out his five bargain buys for the 2016/17 fantasy football season along with his best of the rest, of course within the same price range.

1) Steve Mandanda (Crystal Palace – £4.5m)

After joining Crystal Palace this summer on a free transfer from Ligue 1 side Olympique Marseille, Steve Mandanda’s arrival at Selhurst Park has cast serious doubt on the future of Welsh international and last season’s favoured goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey. Following errors against both Aston Villa and Manchester City, costing both Alan Pardew’s side significant points last season as well as his place in the starting line up on occasions to Alex McCarthy, the former Marseille captain’s arrival could mean the end for Hennessey as Palace’s preferred shot-stopper for the upcoming season. Alongside an abundance of experience playing in the Champions League and internationally for France, at a mere £4.5m Steve Mandanda could yet prove to be the steal of the season.

The best of the rest:

Víctor Valdés (Middlesbrough – £4.5m)
Jordan Pickford (Sunderland – £4m)
Eldin Jakupovic (Hull City – £4m)

2) John Stones (Manchester City – £5m)

The debate will continue to rumble on as to whether Manchester City overpaid for young England international John Stones who has joined Pep Guardiola’s side for a reported £47.5m this summer. Yet when you consider that highest performing defenders of last season are priced at a hefty £6.5m on fantasy football, John Stone’s valuation at only £5m in most definitely represents great value for money. With concerns over Vincent Kompany’s injury proneness, Eliaquim Mangala appearing to near ever closer to the exit door after being left out Guardiola’s twenty-five man squad for the UEFA Champions League and not forgetting Stones’ substantial price-tag, the former Everton man certainly looks set to be a sure starter alongside Nicolas Otamendi. Whilst selecting Stones may be seen as a calculated risk, Stones is already a popular bargain buy and with the right manager and a system allowing him to play to the best of his abilities, it is clear to see why.

The best of the rest:

Ashley Williams (Everton – £5m)
Ragnar Klavan (Liverpool – £5m)
George Friend (Middlesbrough – £4.5m)

3) Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley – £5.5m)

Whilst the Championship top goal scorer Andre Gray quite rightly took all the plaudits last season for Burnley’s promotion from the Championship after netting an impressive twenty-five league goals alongside the second highest number of assists with eleven, at a struggling and later relegated Charlton Athletic stood a player who has rapidly rose to prominence in the last eight months. Ending the Championship season with the same number assists as now team-mate Gray, Johann Gundmundsson continued his fine form in this year’s Euro 2016 starting every game for his native Iceland. As well as his impressive number of assists, clearly Sean Dyche will also have clearly been impressed by both the 25 year old winger’s ability in front of goal with six goals last season. And with at this time of writing only 0.4% of players opting for Burnley’s new summer signing, Gundmundsson may allow you to gain points over your competitors where you would perhaps least expect it.

The best of the rest:

Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace – £5.5m)
Jordon Ibe (Bournemouth – £5.5m)
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Southampton – £4.5m)

4) Sofiane Feghouli (West Ham United – £5.5m)

Again another player coming to the Premier League on a free transfer, Algerian international Sofiane Feghouli swapped Valencia for West Ham United upon his contract expiry at the end of the 2015/16 season. Whilst questions have been raised about Feghouli’s temperament leading to his exclusion from Valencia’s final few games at the end of last season there are certainly very few doubts regarding his talent on the pitch, producing 31 goals and 40 assists during his time in La Liga. With Michail Antonio and Manuel Lanzini adopting different roles and positions throughout last season, Slaven Bilic is clearly not afraid to mix things up tactically and with Dmitri Payet as the focal point of West Ham’s attack, I think that a fully firing Feghouli is both highly likely and offers fantastic value for money at £5.5m.

The best of the rest:

Viktor Fischer (Middlesbrough – £5.5m)
Nathan Dyer (Swansea City – £5m)
Jonathan Leko (West Bromwich Albion – £4.5m)

5) Charlie Austin (Southampton – £6.5m)

In what has yet proven again to be another summer of upheaval at St.Mary’s with manager Ronald Koeman swapping the red and white of Southampton for pastures new with Everton, Southampton will be hoping that their transition into the new season under new manager Claude Puel will be as smooth, straightforward and simple as it possibly can be. For this to happen, Puel will be therefore reliant on both his new summer signings and the core of last seasons squad to fill the gaps left by Saido Mane and Graziano Pelle’s mega-money departures. Heading in to his first full season as a Southampton player with much lesser competition than the previous campaign, I firmly believe that the 2016/17 season could be the occasion whereby Charlie Austin finally reaches the goalscoring heights set with QPR back in 2014/15 and could become a key component of Claude Puel’s side. Likewise, priced at only £6.5m Charlie Austin could prove to be the perfect strike partner for a more luxury striker this season and may surprise a few with just how many he could score in a league he knows very well.

The best of the rest:

Andre Gray (Burnley – £6.5m)
Callum Wilson (Bournemouth – £6.5m)
Fabio Borini (Sunderland – £5.5m)

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