A transfer window with relatively few fantasy football implications came to life on Thursday with the only deal that truly mattered – a 38-year-old Peter Crouch coming back to the Premier League with Burnley.
It can be difficult to know incoming players’ roles, or how each of them will adjust to English football, but there are plenty worth keeping tabs on even if you wait to invest in them.
There are some familiar names, some not-so-familiar ones, and somehow Newcastle’s new record signing, 13-and-a-half-years on from their last. Michael Owen can finally get back to hawking mobile phones and Japanese whisky in peace.
Please note: Gameweek 25 includes a double gameweek for both Everton and Manchester City, who in addition to playing each other, also face off against Wolves and Arsenal respectively.
Gonzalo Higuain, Chelsea (FW, £9.5m)
Selected by: 1.6%
We start with easily the most expensive new recruit (in FPL, anyway). Top-six sides don’t often reload in January, preferring the summer window to recruit key players, but Chelsea have added an experienced striker likely to start each games he’s available for.
With experience playing Sarri-ball, it was expected that Higuain would hit the ground running, as he did on his Premier League debut in Chelsea’s…. checks notes… 4-0 loss to Bournemouth.
Maurizio Sarri’s post-match comments suggest caution. “You can tell he’s not at the top [of his shape] yet,” said the Italian, not-at-all worryingly. “In the last month, between his back pain and the transfer window, he didn’t train properly. He just needs to get back into a better condition.”
But the Argentine remains clear first choice and will be supplied by one of the league’s finest players in Eden Hazard. Concerns right now are centred around his fitness and price, plus the fact he’s competing with Roberto Firmino and Alexandre Lacazette (both £9.3m) in that range. It’s difficult to justify Higuain ahead of Lacazette, unless it’s as a differential pick, but the Arsenal forward does suffer from playing time issues which Chelsea’s new striker won’t.
Miguel Almiron, Newcastle (MF, £6.0m)
Selected by: 0.0%
Newcastle broke their transfer record for the £21.5m Atlanta United playmaker, but what are they getting for their money?
Well, for a start he’s a goal threat; the Paraguayan got 13 in his former team’s 2018 MSL title-winning season, and nine the year before. Scoring in every third game as a midfielder is enviable, especially considering he also managed 19 assists across that span.
Importantly for his prospects of making an immediate impact, he is an industrious player who will drop deep to get involved when needed and doesn’t mind putting in the hard yards. Almiron is not a luxury player who needs service in the final third to produce, though it certainly wouldn’t hurt him.
The obvious question is whether he can perform at the same level against a higher level of competition in the Premier League. At £6.0m he’s certainly priced like someone who is expected to, which is a tough ask of a 24-year-old – even one who’s enjoyed the success that Almiron has.
Like many of the January window players, he seems to come with a ‘shiny new toy’ premium… but everyone likes toys. He’s unlikely to play against Tottenham, so keep a close eye on his performance in GW26 at Wolves. If he looks good, the following fixtures hosting Huddersfield and Burnley look well worth investing in.
Denis Suarez, Arsenal (MF, £6.5m)
Selected by: 0.0%
In the same price bracket as Almiron is Arsenal’s deadline-day signing. Unlike Almiron, however, his role in the Arsenal side is a little less certain.
Suarez arrives at the Emirates on loan with an option to buy, meaning the Gunners obviously want to see if the Spaniard can hold up in English football first. But Unai Emery has plenty of other options in similar positions – think Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi – so Suarez is far from a guaranteed starter.
Having worked with the 25-year-old before, Emery will know how to get the best from him – but unlike Higuain at Chelsea, this isn’t just a short-term signing and the immediate impact isn’t as important as long-term success. That’s not great for his fantasy value this year, and a player with relatively little first-team experience for his age may take some time to settle.
This one’s a wait-and-see – so don’t all go piling in just yet.
Michy Batshuayi, Crystal Palace (FW, £TBC, est. £8.0m)
Batshuayi looked equally un/likely to join about four different clubs on Thursday, but ended up cutting one loan spell at Valencia short for a new one at Selhurst Park.
After a hugely successful loan spell at Borussia Dortmund last year, this season’s jolly in Spain was far less fruitful – the Belgian bagged only once in the league and failed to secure a starting spot. Worrying decline or annoying anomaly? Aged only 25, and with a good record behind him previously, it’s tempting to think the latter.
It’s unlikely that Batshuayi will be thrown straight in at home to Fulham this weekend, what with his deal having been tied up very late on Thursday, but the Batman won’t need any acclimatisation after that. Well worth consideration.
FantasyYIRMA started in 2012 focused primarily on news and previews for the Fantasy Premier League. Following consecutive fantasy coverage across 253 gameweeks, we have decided to try to give back to the community and taken on board Mike Phillips (aka @BangAverageMike) and John Wallin (aka @FantasyGaffer) as unpaid interns.