As badly as everyone needed a break from Premier League football at the end of last season, the wait for the start of the new campaign has felt like forever. But it is (almost) finally here. There are four days left until the 2021/22 season of the English top flight gets under way. And with that, some difficult decisions will have to be made by Fantasy Premier League managers around the world.
The addictive game is growing in popularity by the year and the social media talk during the summer, while the players are on hiatus, almost solely revolves around transfers and potential gems that could slot into carefully drafted line ups.
As you may have noticed, our coverage of FPL began over the weekend. The topics of discussion so far have been under the radar players that we think you should consider when putting together your team, as well as the best assets on the newly promoted Norwich, Brentford and Watford.
In this article, we will take a look at some of the best budget options. Below are five players priced £5.5m or less that could be worth considering for regular returns and perhaps solid differential options in your leagues.
Ryan Bertrand (5.0) — LeicesterEmbed from Getty Images
In need of a new challenge, left-back Ryan Bertrand made a relatively short move from Southampton to Leicester over the summer. Once very highly rated and producing regularly for the Saints, Bertrand is now 32 and the young flame had evidently burned out at St. Mary’s. The former Premier League champions will provide the England international with a more stable environment and a significantly higher level of talent around him.
Battling for European places every season, the Foxes’ style of play under Brendan Rodgers will suit Bertrand to a tee. Very good on the ball and capable in the final third, the left-back will slot right into Leicester’s starting XI and provide a promising outlet on the left flank. Combining with Harvey Barnes, that partnership will have a lot of potential going forward once meshed.
Bertrand only contributed with two assists last season, but with new motivation and lethal finishers in Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho sniffing in the box, don’t be surprised if he becomes an important outlet for the Foxes this season. Bertrand was selected by just 1.3% of FPL players so far.
Matthew Lowton (4.5) — BurnleyEmbed from Getty Images
You can always rely on Sean Dyche’s Burnley to be sturdy defensively. A defender from the Clarets is somewhat a no brainer every season. Matt Lowton presents fantastic value on FPL because despite having a career best return last year (103 points), he held his low price. Burnley were once again a nuisance to every team visiting Turf Moor and Lowton was a big contributor in their 10 clean sheet haul.
A single goal and one assist in 2020/21 may not look the most appealing on paper, but the late season emergence of Chris Wood means that both Burnley full-backs now have a regular focal point in the opposition area. Of the two, Lowton is by far the most adventurous and capable going forward. For such little money, he could prove to be a consistent option, with his numbers likely to improve. Lowton has been selected by just 3.2% of FPL players so far.
Ben White (4.5) — ArsenalEmbed from Getty Images
With his move from Brighton to a significantly stronger team in Arsenal, Ben White was always going to be up there as an attractive defensive option. But the fact that he held his 4.5 price despite the big £50 million move has made the English center-back that much more appealing. White is yet to register a Premier League goal contribution, but he was right at the heart of the 12 clean sheets kept by the Seagulls last season.
At Arsenal, White is likely set to become the leader of the back line. With high England aspirations, there will be a lot of pressure on the 23-year-old to deliver, but his rapid rise has now given him the perfect platform to show what he is all about.
For all their defensive frailties, you should expect the Gunners to be more solid and keep more clean sheets in the upcoming campaign. And if they continue to play with three central defenders, White’s ball playing ability will grant him the license to bring the ball forward, opening up possibilities for key passes and therefore, assists. White is by far the most popular choice of this article, being selected by 24.4% of FPL players.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (5.5)Embed from Getty Images
Going by the social media chatter you would not have guessed it, but Aaron Wan-Bissaka was actually Manchester United’s highest scoring defender on FPL last season (144 points). Deservedly so, most of the praise went Luke Shaw’s way in 2020/21. His resurgence has been nothing short of spectacular. But Wan-Bissaka too has made strides of his own. Criticized for his offensive impact, the right-back scored twice and recorded five assists last term.
It may not always look pretty, but Wan-Bissaka is very efficient on the ball and a lot smarter than he is given credit for in the final third. The 23-year-old did a great job of recognizing when to play short passes which could lead to goal scoring opportunities and when to look to demonstrate his improved crossing ability. Also, watch out for those late back post runs! Now, the addition of Jadon Sancho will only mean more freedom for Wan-Bissaka to maraud down the flank and with that, potential attacking returns.
The imminent arrival of Raphaël Varane should also mean that Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side will keep more than 13 clean sheets this season, making Wan-Bissaka an enticing option. He has been selected by 11.1% of FPL players so far.
Bryan Mbeumo (5.5) — BrentfordEmbed from Getty Images
Usually, the most attractive options from newly promoted sides are strikers. This year is no different, with Brentford’s Ivan Toney taking virtually all the spotlight. As a result, his teammate Bryan Mbeumo has been left criminally overlooked. Of course, picking any player without Premier League experience is always a gamble. But Mbeumo’s numbers and style of play are quite likely to translate into the English top-flight.
The 22-year-old is a French youth international. Last season, he chipped in with eight goals and 12 assists, helping lead The Bees to their long desired dreamland. At this point you will ask, was it a one off? Well, the season before, Mbeumo had 15 goals and eight assists to his name. So, at the Championship level, consistency was not a problem.
Now, how will all of that translate into arguably the best and most physical league in the world? It’s impossible to predict that. Will Mbeumo’s numbers look just as good by May of 2022? Probably not. But you can almost guarantee a certain level of output looking at his physique and playing style.
A pacey right-winger who loves to cut in on his left foot — a popular trend in world football of late — Mbeumo also has the build that will suit the Premier League. Toney will be one of the people hoping that his running mate hits the ground running, awaiting his service in the middle. And having been selected by just 1.0% of FPL players, Mbeumo is an intriguing proposition.