Ah the budget midfielder. The guy you turn to when you find yourself with heavy hitters everywhere and not a lot of wonga left to splash on filling your 15 man squad. In my mind, they come in 3 flavours:
-the 5.0 with attacking potential who you use in a rotation policy or as an option when a more expensive player has a particularly tricky fixture.
-the 4.5 who is nailed on and serves simply to be cheap filler, earning a couple of points consistently on the off-chance injuries/rotation cripples your side.
-the 4.5 who is a very risky punt but may just be a bandwagon in waiting.
Darron Gibson (Everton): Thanks to Rodwell’s departure, the Irishman is now nailed on in Moyes’ team. He will play as part of a double pivot midfield alongside Fellaini (think of Germany’s formation in the Euro’s) and has an a thunderous shot which should bring in a few points this year.
Jimmy Kebe/ Garath McCleary (Reading): Both players put in very impressive displays down the right wing in the Championship last year (McCleary was at Forest) and either could become a solid option if one manages to nail down the position. Their prospects however also suffer from being in competition with yet another winger in the Reading side.
Jack Colback (Sunderland): A highly thought-of youngster, he made 32 appearances last year and while 1 goal and 1 assist don’t seem very promising, he seems to attract EA PPI so imagine his bonus potential if he can improve his efficiency going forward
Yassine El Ghanassy (West Brom): A new signing at West Brom, El Ghanassy has been scouted by many of Europe’s top teams and I believe there is no smoke without fire (although the fire may not be as big as first thought). Equally capable of playing down the wings or up front, he could prove to be the new creative force in the Midlands side.
Mark Noble (West Ham): A very popular choice on FFS, the main thing to know about Noble is his spot kick duties. Potential worries about his starting position have sprung up lately due to the number of midfielders signed by the Hammers, although FFS’ resident Iron has moved to assauge such worries (direct all letters of complaint to him).
Shaun Maloney/Ryo Miyachi (Wigan): The prospects of these two players are linked to the future of Victor Moses. If he goes, they will fill the attacking midfield roles in the Wigan formation and both have the potential to flourish in such a case. If the Holy One remains at the DW however, the potential for rotation will likely put a the skids on any bandwagon.
Karim El Ahmadi (Aston Villa): A nailed on defensively minded midfielder, he won’t offer spectacular returns but should be a solid 3rd sub option at this price range.
Danny Guthrie (Reading): While he isn’t guaranteed starts from the off, he has EPL experience and should do well in the Royals midfield. He will even have some freedom so he might achieve some attacking returns.
Leon Britton (Swansea): While achieving 0 attacking returns last year, he will undoubtedly figure in most of the Swans matches and if they can maintain there tight defense, he will offer more of a chance of 3 points from the bench as opposed to 2.
Kacaniklic/Frei (Fulham): Neither player are sure to start with Dempsey still at the club but Frei may even pressurise Duff for a start. If Captain America does leave, there will be at least one of these exciting prospects starting on the flanks for Fulham.
Sylvain Marveaux (Newcastle): According to our Toon expert, China Mag, this fellow is able to cover for all of Newcastle’s offensive positions in their new formation and with all of his competitors suffering fron knocks he is likely to get an early run in the team. Certainly one to keep an eye on and in my opinion the star pick of all the budget options.
Hal Robson-Kanu (Reading): HRK has been in impressive form in pre-season, which puts him in with a shout of earning a starting berth on the right flank. He is also versatile and can provide cover on the left and up front. If the Royals’ offense suffers from a few injuries this season, HRK could well be a great selection.
Ultimately not much is certain when you opt for a budget midfielder and need him in your scoring XI. They do however give you the chance to strengthen your side elsewhere and if you manage to pick the right ones, they can even prove to be stellar differentials… that is until the bandwagon kicks off.