Who are the best replacements for Joao Cancelo?

In a surprising development, Manchester City defender Joao Cancelo (£7.1m) has joined Bayern Munich on loan for the rest of the season, with an option to buy for £61m.

The Portuguese had fallen out of the first team under Pep Guardiola, starting just two of Man City’s six Premier League games since the World Cup.

However, Cancelo is still owned by just under 30% of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers currently inside the top 100k.

So, here are the best and most-talked-about Cancelo replacements, not including the highly-owned Kieran Trippier (£6.1m) and Luke Shaw (£5.3m).

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The Arsenal centre-half is averaging 4.5 points per match this season, courtesy of two goals, nine clean sheets and nine bonus points.

That’s slightly behind William Saliba’s (£5.3m) rate of 4.8 points per match, yet it’s worth noting Gabriel Magalhaes (£5.2m) has racked up 13 more goal attempts than the Frenchman in 2022/23, with two additional ‘big chances’ presented to him. In addition, he also has superior stats for aerial duels won, tackles, interceptions, clearances and blocks.

Full-backs Ben White (£4.7m) and Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.0m) provide other strong options in Arsenal’s backline. They are both first choice at present, although Takehiro Tomiyasu’s (£4.2m) return to fitness has seen him appear off the bench for a combined 93 minutes in the last four Gameweeks, while Kieran Tierney (£4.6m) could potentially get the odd game at left-back.

As a result, the centre-halves feel a little more secure in their roles as week-in, week-out starters, who will play 90 minutes barring injury or suspension.

The Gunners have a favourable upcoming schedule, with four of their next six fixtures against teams currently sitting in the bottom half of the table. Furthermore, their Gameweek 25 fixture against Leicester City isn’t affected by the League Cup final postponements.

Total (rank v other Premier League clubs)
Played 19
Goals conceded 16
Clean sheets 9
Minutes per expected goals conceded (xGC) 107.2 (2nd=)


With Cancelo departing, there are candidates to replace him at Man City, but be warned, nobody feels 100% nailed at this stage.

Rico Lewis (£3.9m) is already a fan favourite at the Etihad with Pep Guardiola regularly talking up his performances. He costs just £3.9m, allowing for significant upgrades elsewhere, but his price reflects his vulnerability. While regular starts perhaps look a little more likely following Cancelo’s departure, he is still competing with Kyle Walker (£4.8m) at right-back.

Nathan Ake (£5.0m), meanwhile, now has one less positional rival to worry about on the left, but Aymeric Laporte (£5.7m) can perform the role, while Sergio Gomez (£4.5m) is another squad option, although it’d be a surprise if he suddenly becomes a week-in, week-out starter.

We also have John Stones (£5.4m) – who is currently flagged with a hamstring injury – Manuel Akanji (£5.0m) and Ruben Dias (£5.9m) competing for starts in the middle, with all of the above’s minutes since the restart captured below.

Player GW17 (lee) GW18 (EVE) GW19 (che) GW20 (mun/TOT) GW21 (WOL)
Stones 90 90 90 0/90 90
Akanji 90 90 45 90/90 90
Ake 90 90 90 90/90 45
Dias 0 0 0 0/1 0
Walker 0 0 45 90/7 0
Laporte 0 0 0 0/0 90
Lewis 67 86 45 0/82 45

As for Man City, a Double Gameweek 23 follows this weekend’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur, with appealing clashes against Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth immediately after.

Total (rank v other Premier League clubs)
Played 20
Goals conceded 20
Clean sheets 8
Minutes per expected goals conceded (xGC) 122.1 (1st)


The case to double up on Newcastle United’s backline by adding Fabian Schar (£5.2m) or Sven Botman (£4.5m) alongside Trippier is growing stronger by the day.

That’s because the Magpies have the meanest defence in the division, having conceded fewer goals (11) and kept more clean sheets (12) than any other side in 2022/23 so far.

However, it’s debatable whether or not now is the best time to invest further.

That’s because Newcastle will blank in Gameweek 25 if they reach the League Cup final, which looks very likely, given that they are 1-0 up against Southampton going into Tuesday’s semi-final second leg at St James’ Park. After that, it’s a trip to champions Man City, but from Gameweek 27 onwards that double-up becomes a lot more appealing, especially if they keep up their current defensive form.

As for Schar/Botman, the former carries plenty of goal threat – no FPL defender has registered more shots or big chances this season – but Botman is a much kinder price, which will likely prove decisive in most set-ups.

Total (rank v other Premier League clubs)
Played 20
Goals conceded 11
Clean sheets 12
Minutes per expected goals conceded (xGC) 107.2 (2nd=)


Brighton pair Pervis Estupinan (4.5m) and Lewis Dunk (£4.7m) are firmly on the FPL radar, with the Seagulls looking strong under Roberto De Zerbi.

It’s only translated into two clean sheets in 13 matches under the Italian, yet their non-penalty xGC tally of 12.99 in that time is only bettered by three sides – Newcastle, Arsenal and Man City – suggesting there is more to come from their defensive assets.

Estupinan places 14th among all defenders for minutes per chance created from Gameweek 9 onwards (De Zerbi’s first match in charge), while Dunk has played every minute of every game.

A bit like Newcastle, the worry with Brighton is that now isn’t the best time to invest. Yes, they have Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Fulham in the next three rounds, but it’s very likely they will blank in Gameweek 25 and potentially 28 too.

Total (rank v other Premier League clubs
Played 19
Goals conceded 27
Clean sheets 5
Minutes per expected goals conceded (xGC) 75.4 (7th)


FPL team news: Live updates of Gameweek 28 injury updates

It may be premature to move now, but the return of Reece James (£5.7m) from injury is at least worth touching on, given his undoubted potential when playing regular minutes.

The wing-back has returned to first-team training and could feature in some capacity against Fulham on Friday.

James, of course, racked up five goals and nine assists last season, and the fixtures are very decent for Chelsea too, with their Gameweek 25/28 matches unaffected by postponements.

Elsewhere, Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.3m) and Andrew Robertson (£6.8m) both feel like expensive purchases given Liverpool’s lack of clean sheets, although a Double Gameweek might help boost both players’ prospects, which has been mooted.

Could you add a second Man Utd defender like Lisandro Martinez (£4.5m) into the mix? Potentially, but a likely blank in Gameweek 25 needs to be factored in.

Other options include Ben Mee (£4.8m) – Brentford have a pretty good run of home fixtures so he could potentially be used as part of a defensive rotation – or cheaper still, James Tarkowski (£4.2m) and Hugo Bueno (£3.9m) if funds are needed in other areas.

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