In the last few seasons, surprise players in the cheap end of the midfield category have become sensational footballers — and even better FPL assets almost seemingly overnight. We want to help you unearth this season’s gem.
Riyad Mahrez is the most obvious example among budget midfielders for FPL that became essential. Coming in at just £5.5 to start the 15/16 season, the Algerian became the heart of every FPL team.
He’s certainly not the only budget midfielder to find his way into our FPL teams (as well as our hearts). Dele Alli, Ryan Fraser, and Conor Gallagher last season have shown there can be value in the budget midfield range.
We’ve taken a closer look at the hottest prospect in the league. Read on to find the player every manager wishes they selected for their gameweek one squad.
THE BEST BUDGET MIDFIELDERS FOR FPL 2022/23
Pablo Fornals (West Ham, £5.5m)
I was pretty surprised to find Pablo Fornals in this price bracket. The versatile Hammers midfielder is coming off the back of 117-point and 125-point seasons, respectively. These are excellent numbers in an improving West Ham side under David Moyes.
Averaging a return once every three games, the Spanish number eight is a very consistent asset to put in your FPL team. He can play wide left, wide right as well as in the number 10 role. He takes some corners and free-kicks, which provides a good variety of routes to points considering West Ham’s aerial ability scoring 14 goals from set-pieces last year.
With Bowen coming in at a hefty £8.5, even a slight regression from last season would put him and Fornals’ points-per-million at about even. However, at £3 million cheaper, Fornals offers consistent returns at a good attacking outfit, and stands out among budget midfielders for FPL.
Pedro Neto (Wolves, £5.5m)
Having been handed a price decrease due to a season out with injury, Pedro Neto could be the pick of the bunch when it comes to midfielders priced £5.5m and under. The Portuguese winger is expected to play as a second striker in the 5-3-2 system under Lage.
In his first season, he impressed many an FPL manager scoring five goals and providing eight assists before a season-ending injury that kept him out for close to a year. He returned around Gameweek 26 last season and was in and out of the team before playing good minutes in the last five games, even managing a goal and an assist, the goal coming away to Liverpool on the final day.
Wolves have relatively generous opening fixtures. A trip Spurs is their only fixture against the so-called “Big Six” in their opening six games. At £5.5m, Pedro Neto is undoubtedly someone to consider for your Gameweek 1 team.
Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton, £5.5m)
The 23-year-old Argentine international impresses me every time I watch him play. From an eye-test perspective, his technical qualities are undeniable. Fitness has been his main problem, but 18 appearances (16 starts) in the final 18 games of last season could mean he’s managed to put those issues to bed.
The Seagull’s number ten managed five goals and two assists in 22 starts last season, but with an average of 2.4 shots per 90 and 0.18 xG/90, it could have been more. His underlying numbers are good, but his conversion rates, as well as that of his team mates, need work.
Graham Potter’s men have gone from strength to strength in recent seasons and I’m backing their goalscoring to improve this time out. With that in mind, there’s every chance this could be Alexis Mac Allister’s breakout season.
Ryan Fraser (Newcastle, £5.5m)
Some might have fond memories of Ryan Fraser in an Edit Howe team from days gone by. The skilful Scot managed 21 returns and 181 points in the 2018/19, playing in an impressive Bournemouth side that also featured Callum Wilson up front.
While Fraser’s career has failed to maintain those heights for a number of reasons, he showed glimpses last season that a return to his old form could be on the cards this year. Averaging 4.8 points per 90, and a return just less than every second game, Fraser impressed me in a resurgent Newcastle team under Howe. Expected to keep his place on the right of a front three, Fraser takes corners and free-kicks as well and this season he’ll be sending them into Dan Burn & Sven Botman (6’7” & 6’6” respectively).
Newcastle have good opening fixtures, and at his price, the occasional benching is fine, too, I think he could be an excellent value pick this year among budget midfielders for FPL.
Jacob Ramsey (Aston Villa, £5.5m)
Starting at just £4.5 last season Jacob Ramsey finished on an impressive 109 points. The young Englishman was quite popular in most Wildcard two drafts, though somewhat failing to extend the kind of form he’d showed early in the New Year.
Having scored a screamer off the bench against Arsenal, he cemented his place in Steven Gerrard’s side by GW15, scoring five goals and one assist for the rest of the season. A great carrier of the ball, his ability to make those late darting runs into the box seemed somewhat curtailed with the arrival of Phillippe Coutinho, whether this trend continues into next season remains to be seen.
Villa open up the season nicely, with Bournemouth, Everton and Palace up first. With Gerrard’s underwhelming tenure so far I expect Villa to hit the ground running and Jacob Ramsey will be eager to impress.
Anthony Elanga (Man United, £5.0m)
The 20-year-old Manchester United winger impressed me in the flashes I saw of him last season. Pacey and direct, he almost seems like a bit of Rashford from a year or two ago, and he may well have taken his place too.
The Swede managed two goals and three assists in just 1208 minutes last campaign, averaging 4.3 points per 90. He has also been reported to be working tirelessly on his strength and conditioning over the summer, and I expect to see an increased role and more minutes this coming season.
There is every chance he usurps Rashford’s position in the team, and with the majority of players coming in £0.5-£1 cheaper than expected, spending that bit extra on a 5th midfielder could pay off. For this spot, I think Elanga is the ideal candidate.
Odhrán Brennan is a data journalist for a sports data company, living in Finland. He’s been playing FPL since the 06/07 season and is a long suffering fan of both Arsenal and the Republic of Ireland national team.