Whether it’s via Wildcard or free transfers, a large number of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers will need cheap midfielders if they are trying to accommodate Erling Haaland (£14.0m), Mohamed Salah (£12.6m) and Son Heung-min (£9.5m).
Although slightly off-form by his standards, Haaland still dominates the underlying statistics, whilst Salah is the joint-top scoring FPL player so far on 59 points. Meanwhile, midfielder Son is playing up front for league leaders Spurs, netting six times in his latest five matches.
Our budgets can only stretch a certain distance, meaning a sacrifice needs to be made somewhere. Here is a list of the best budget midfield options.
CHEAP FPL MIDFIELDERS
Over the most recent six Gameweeks, these are the top-scoring midfielders under £6.0m.
Pedro Neto (£5.7m) leads the way and is also projected to do best over the next eight Gameweeks by the Rate My Team (RMT) algorithm. Selected by 8.6% of all managers, the next most-owned in this price bracket are Rodri (£5.6m) and Anthony Gordon (£5.6m). Nobody else exceeds 5%.
PEDRO NETO (£5.7m)
So let’s start with the primary candidate – the sub-£6.0m midfielder who is number one for chances created (20), crosses (57) and expected goals (xG, 4.10).
Pedro Neto may be a name that sends shivers down FPL managers’ spines after misplaced faith at the start of 2022/23 but he’s recovered from two injury-plagued seasons to have a brilliant beginning to 2023/24. The 23-year-old has played every single minute of it.
He’s on a six-game streak of attacking returns and has a nice trip to Bournemouth in Gameweek 9. In fact, over the next eight, Neto is also against Sheffield United, Fulham, Burnley and Nottingham Forest.
Overall, the aforementioned 57 crosses rank joint-fourth and only three others have set up more big chances (five). This set-piece taker is perhaps more of an assister than a goal scorer but at least he’s consistently providing them.
HWANG HEE-CHAN (£5.4m)
Three of them have been for team-mate Hwang Hee-chan, who plays on the opposite side of Wolverhampton Wanderers’ front three.
His five goals are amongst the league’s most and they’ve arrived from a mere 12 shots and 427 minutes. Of those with 300+ minutes, Alexander Isak (£7.5m) is the sole player with a better mins per goal rate (85.4).
What may put managers off Hwang is a feeling that this is unsustainable and, unlike Neto, his game time is unpredictable. Only in the last two matches has the South Korean international recorded 60 minutes or above.
Furthermore, Wolves being last season’s lowest scorers (31) sticks in the mind a bit. Good medium-term fixtures, though.
ANTHONY GORDON (£5.6m)
Whereas Isak and Newcastle United are the best team for big chances (31) and xG (17.48), scoring the second-most goals (20).
Back from suspension and with additional rest from having no international duty, Gordon could be a bargain. Of the sub-£6.0m midfielders, he is joint with Neto on five big chances created and narrowly behind for attacking returns (six).
However, two obstacles are immediate fixtures and possible rotation. The Magpies face the two defences with four clean sheets within their next few outings – all three of last season’s Crystal Palace meetings finished 0-0.
And even though Harvey Barnes (£6.3m) is out for months with a toe injury, the almost-fit Joelinton (£5.8m) and Joe Willock (£5.3m) could play on the left with Champions League matches in mind.
MATHIAS JENSEN (£5.4m)
It’d be rude not to include the top-scoring midfielder under £7.2m. Jensen’s three goals and one assist over the last five coincide with four successive blanks for popular Brentford colleague Bryan Mbeumo (£6.7m), ensuring the Dane now sits on more points.
Admittedly, this trio of goals comes from five shots – a conversion rate even higher than Hwang’s. Nobody with at least four attempts exceeds this 60% but it’s not merely a purple patch for Jensen. He was one of 75 players to net five times last season – just four did so in fewer shots (23).
An impressive 12 attacking returns exceeded his expected goal involvements (xGI) by +5.12.
COLE PALMER (£4.9m)
Elsewhere, a new option may be emerging from the supposed ‘big six’. Transfer deadline day signing Cole Palmer (£4.9m) has only started Chelsea’s last two league games but delivered one goal, two assists and 17 points from them.
Not only that, he took a penalty whilst Enzo Fernandez (£4.9m) and Raheem Sterling (£7.0m) were on the field.
Although England Under-21s boss Lee Carsley has confirmed that Palmer’s midweek withdrawal was simply “a dead leg”, a nasty fixture turn probably dampens his FPL appeal for now. It offers more time to assess his starting potential, yet some managers may feel a cheap Chelsea attacker is worth having at any time.
ABDOULAYE DOUCOURE (£5.5m)
One surprising statistic to emerge this week is that Everton are currently the second-best team for shots (133) and big chances (28).
Doucoure is stepping up to the plate at a time when there is uncertainty up front. With three goals from five, it combines with 2022/23’s climax to now total six goals from the last dozen appearances.
His seven big chances rank joint-sixth overall and aren’t beaten by any other midfielder in the game. Of those under £6.0m, Doucoure is joint with Neto for penalty area touches (37) and second to him for xGI (3.87). And – to top it off – Everton are the league’s biggest xG underachievers, only scoring nine times instead of 14.92.
Unfortunately, like Chelsea, imminent fixtures look very difficult for them.
OTHER FPL MIDFIELDERS
There isn’t much beyond these six. Douglas Luiz (£5.4m) is on three goals, thanks to penalty duties – something which Liverpool’s Alexis Mac Allister (£5.9m) doesn’t have anymore.
West Ham United’s Tomas Soucek (£4.9m) has goals from two successive matches. Maybe he has the thirst to repeat his ten-goal season of 2020/21.
Finally, the 15 chances created by Morgan Gibbs-White (£5.8m) are joint-second of all sub-£6.0m midfielders. He dominates Nottingham Forest’s set-pieces but remains goalless so far and was benched for tactical reasons in Gameweek 7.