For the next part of our series looking at bargain basement players, we are focussing on the Spanish La Liga, and with strong starts from the likes of Barcelona and champions Athletico Madrid, there are sure to be some names largely selected that are performing well on the points charts too, but as usual there will be some lower cost alternatives. In some cases, these cheaper players have proven thus far to be faring better than their more illustrious counterparts, while others don’t fall too far short in the points stakes, allowing our fantasy managers to free up some funding to improve on other areas of the pitch. With that said, let’s turn out attention towards the Iberian region.
As usual, we will begin by looking at the custodians, and particularly during these earlier stages of the season these guys tend to be big points winners – or find themselves badly in the negative totals after some dodgy starts of course. The biggest points winner in La Liga so far, and indeed throughout the whole continent for all positions at this stage, is Barcelona stopper Claudio Bravo, who has managed to cull a massive 200 points from his first five starts of the season. He carries a value of €7.50m, so while he isn’t necessarily the cheapest there are far more expensive keepers in the game. Due to Bravo’s success already, however, it seems difficult to recommend a viable, cost efficient alternative – second placed keeper Diego Alves of Valencia has a solid 115 points but still costs €5.00m, so that is a fair whack of points to raise the relatively small difference. In third, Idriss Carlos Kameni of Malaga is arguably the biggest bargain for his position at only €1.50m, but he has earned 90 points – so while that is fantastic when compared to his value, it is considerably lower than Bravo, so if you have the Catalans’ stopper in your side perhaps best to keep him there.
In defence, another Barcelona star in the shape of Jordi Alba presently leads the way with 160 points from a somewhat modest €6.50m price tag, and once again it seems difficult to look at truly feasible alternatives when the leader has a decent value already. José Gayá – ironically also of Valencia – is just behind him on 120 points and you would save yourself €2.00m, which is perhaps not too bad a tradeoff, but really the only player anywhere near the top 10 who could save you some real money would be Lucas Orban of Valencia, but he has only half the points of Alba and even then would cost you €3.00m, representing a €3.50m saving. Again, if you already have Alba in there, keep him there. He is also the most owned defender in the league in the Euro Fantasy League game with 19% of all managers including him in their squads – he is certainly a far better inclusion at this stage than Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid, who possesses an 18% ownership at this stage. He has earned himself only 20 points so far with a price tag of €8.50m, so if you have Ramos in there, think about getting him out and Alba in.
Moving forward now, Real Madrid midfielder Gareth Bale is both the most expensive midfielder in our game at €12.50m and also the biggest points scorer with 100, but you can save yourself a cool €5.50m by sticking Valencia’s Sofiane Feghouli in your squad, who is only 30 points behind. 0% of managers have Feghouli in their squads right now, so he is clearly set to surprise many neutrals – think of him as a viable alternative, though admittedly taking Bale out of your side if he is already in there would be a bit like just throwing points away – he has settled in well in Spain, and that rich vein of form will surely continue. Should anything season-changing befall the Welshman’s campaign, however, look to Valencia for his replacement.
Up front, Bale’s Real team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo continues the former Tottenham star’s trend, being both the most expensive (€23.50m) and biggest points scorer (a whopping 220) in the league. Due to his remarkably high price, however, it may be somewhat surprising that 20% of all managers have the Portuguese star in their side already, but rival Lionel Messi matches the asking price but has netted only 150 points thus far – so Ronaldo seems the better inclusion of the two at this stage. Second and third on the points charts for strikers, however, both fall under the “viable alternative” category, and you can save an absolute packet in the process. Manuel Agudo Nolito Duran (Celta de Vigo) and Paco Alcacer (Valencia) both have 100 points each, admittedly only half of Ronaldo’s tally, but cost a mere €2.50m and €3.00m respectively. Fantasy managers, therefore, need to ask themselves whether sacrificing Ronaldo (and effectively up until now 100 points) to raise around €20.00m of funding to strengthen in other, perhaps underperforming, areas is a good tactic. Opinions will naturally vary, but the option is there in black and white for all you fantasy gaffers out there to make the decision.
To conclude this bargain basement series, we will of course be finishing with the last of our relevant leagues to kick off this season, which was the Italian Serie A.