Romelu Lukaku – Forward – Manchester United – £72 Million – Transfer From: Everton
We know more about Lukaku than the rest of this list. The big Belgian moves just a little East into Manchester to continue his quest for the Golden Boot. Harry Kane snatched the award last season after an amazing final week, but Lukaku still left his mark with 25 goals and 6 assists.
As far as his outlook for this season, I think Lukaku can be easily compared to Ibrahimovic. Given that Lukaku is stepping into Ibra’s vacated spot, and with Lukaku’s success in the premier league, I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine a similar season to last year. They had eerily similar stats; the only major discrepancies in scoring categories could be found in dribbles and key passes. Ibra passed more, Lukaku dribbled more. In the end, Ibrahimovic averaged 16.0 points per game* and Lukaku averaged 14.9 ppg last season.
The biggest knock on Lukaku is his sporadic lack of enthusiasm. He seemed bored and lethargic in certain games last season. My armchair theory comes from the frustration that Lukaku visibly showed during the last campaign. Everton’s ever-changing attacking force didn’t provide enough consistent support for the striker. Not that Jose Mourinho promises any more consistency within the side, but the quality of the players alongside Lukaku should be much higher at one of the richest clubs in the world.
To me, Lukaku is a known quantity. He should be a no-doubt first rounder and a top-five forward. He’s an amazing talent with documented success in the league. That automatically elevates him above Lacazette, Salah and anyone else who aren’t Harry Kane or Alexis Sanchez.
Note*: I calculate points per game a little differently than the official Togga score. I exclude any match in which the player did not make an impact on the game (<10 minutes played, little scoring impact)
Tentative Position Ranking: 3 | Projected Draft Round: Early 1st
Alexandre Lacazette – Forward – Arsenal – £45 million – Transfer From: Olympic Lyon
Arsenal finally have a prolific French striker from Ligue 1 to replace their formerly prolific French striker. Lacazette scored 37 goals in 46 total appearances for Lyon last season, finishing as the golden boot runner-up and highest rated player in League 1 last season. Arsenal’s 45 million pound man instantly became an elite fantasy option, even if he still has plenty to prove.
Lacazette represents a drastic change from Olivier Giroud. He’s not large, but he’s quick and a hell of a finisher. The diminuitive Frenchman’s movement off the ball is impeccable, and he seems to find himself in the right position frequently. Only wonderkid Kylian Mbappe had a higher shot accuracy (and he averaged one less shot per game). Lacazette also led Ligue 1 forwards with 50 key passes; he loves to interplay in the box. He seems a natural complement for Ozil, who will provide plenty of opportunities for Lacazette to tuck nicely into the net.
Atypically, my concern for Lacazette’s value stems from Arsenal’s lack of depth. I doubt Alexis Sanchez will stay at the Emirates. At times last season, even the brilliant Chilean looked overwhelmed trying to lead the Gunners attack alone (then again, he was the highest scoring player in fantasy). Lacazette has yet to show world-class skill in creating opportunities and if Ozil fades in and out of games like he did at times last campaign, goals could dry up.
On top of that, the EPL is a much more physical league than League 1. France’s best scorers haven’t fared quite as well as they moved to the Premier League: Giroud’s goal total dropped from 21 to 11 in his first year; Falcao went from 9 to 4; Sofiane Boufal: 11-3. Even Zlatan, who popped in 38 for PSG fell to just 17 for Man U last season, and he’s able to bang around with the biggest defenders.
Not that I expect a 38 goal outburst from Lacazette. I think that 20 is certainly within reach though.
Tentative Position Rank: 5 | Projected Draft Round: Mid – Late 1st
Bernardo Silva – Midfielder – Manchester City – £42.5 Million – Transfer From: Monaco
I’ve heard Silva called “Portuguese Messi” and it’s not a huge stretch. All of the skills you could possibly want are there. The attacking midfielder scampers all over the field with the ball on a string, pulling it around, over or through multitudes of defenders. He scores, but creates as well. In fact, he looks eerily similar to another member of his new team, David Silva.
Bernardo Silva’s value will be directly related to this similarity. Bernardo and David likely won’t be playing too much together; they both fill a similar niche on the field. The two are attacking midfielders, more tasked with finding the right linkages in play than creating for themselves. This does result in assists, and goals, but mostly it results in moving the defense and positioning them to their own liking.
That’s not to say that Bernardo Silva isn’t a dangerous attacking threat. He routinely gets into the box and has commanding finesse on shots on goal. But placed into the Manchester City lineup in lieu of David Silva, he’s somewhere between 3rd and 5th most dangerous player on their team (depending on how you feel about Raheem Sterling and whether Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero are both on the field). He will rack up points in the other, less heralded scoring categories – dribbles and key passes in particular plus avoiding dispossession.
The key here will be playing time. In addition to David Silva, there’s Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan to consider. I believe that Bernardo is the second most valuable of that group with guaranteed playing time, but that guarantee is going to be hard to come by. I think he’ll be getting plenty of minutes by season’s end, but it might be a bumpy ride. You may be able to snag him on a discount for that reason alone (alternatively, deal David Silva early in the season, if he gets early playing time).
Tentative Position Rating: 10 | Projected Draft Round: Mid 2nd
Mohamed Salah – Midfielder – Liverpool – £35.7 million – Transfer From: Roma
Salah has the potential to be an absolute star. Liverpool hit the mark with this transfer; the Egyptian fits into Klopp’s system perfectly. He’s an absolute blazer on the right wing – one of the quickest players in the world in space. His left foot is a cannon and is matched only by its touch and finesse. He’s a fairly hard worker up front in pressuring the ball, but really shines on the counter. Salah’s speed can devastate over-committed (or napping) defenders.
He showcased excellent vision last season, however his final pass was not always where it should have been. He is much more valuable playing the ball in intricate situations than crossing into the box. All of these skills are tailor-made for life at Anfield. Liverpool would rather piece passes together around the box than send in a looping cross amongst bodies.
The only problem here is playing time. Liverpool are amassing quite an attacking force; there are only 6 spots for 10 high-quality forwards and midfielders (not including left-back James Milner). I project that the ideal roster would leave Lallana, Can, Origi and Sturridge on the bench, but either way, Salah will have someone breathing down his neck at all times. Competition for spots usually breeds better play on the field, but with Liverpool back in Champions League play, expect plenty of rotation. This could either help or hinder Salah, we’ll just have to see which competition he features in more.
I’m huge on Salah (and Liverpool as a whole) this season. The real problem is picking which one of them is the most valuable. What’s good for a real team doesn’t make fantasy problems any easier to manage. For now, he’s below Firmino, Coutinho and Mane, but I reserve the right to change my mind at a moment’s notice.
Note: Salah is a midfielder in Togga games. This doesn’t change his scoring potential much, but midfielders do get an extra point for any clean sheets.
Tentative Position Ranking: 11 | Projected Draft Round: Mid – Late 2nd