It’s about the time of year where “experts” at every publication imaginable start to give their tips for fantasy soccer, be it Premier League, MLS, or any number of leagues possible. The trouble is, every site has different valuations for players as well as different systems and rules for their leagues. Instead of digging deep into the minutiae of a specific fantasy league system, I’m going to look at the closest thing to real world valuations for the English Premier League, and take a stab at what I think the best team that £100 million could buy. I was inspired by the Guardian’s recent piece on Arsene Wenger’s proposal to turn the actual Premier League into a fantasy league, “where every club gets £100m and then let’s see how good you [managers] are.” The Guardian then looked at various Premier League managers, and analyzed them to see which have a history of spending wisely and could thus succeed in a more socialist-like spending environment. Here’s what I think the best team one could realistically get for £100 million in the English Premier League, using market valuations from transfermarkt.co.uk, which the Guardian also used for their simulation. Let us know in the comments why I’m right or wrong and how you’d line up your £100 million XI.
Goalkeeper: Costel Pantilimon (Sunderland), 4.2 million
After struggling for time at Manchester City behind Joe Hart, the Romanian moved to Sunderland last summer on a free transfer. He managed 11 clean sheets – not bad for a team that barely survived relegation.
Left-back: Nacho Monreal (Arsenal), 8.4 million
Potentially worth more than his market value, Monreal has quietly improved in the Premier League since moving from Malaga in 2013.
Center-back: Chris Smalling (Manchester United), 9.8m
Has his ups and downs for his club, but one of the most talented young center backs in the league.
Center-back: Federico Fazio (Tottenham), 5.6m
Not yet a household name, Fazio was one of the most in-form defenders in England last season. Expect to see his name a lot more in the near future.
Right-back: Antonio Valencia (Manchester United), 7m
One of the most unexpected turns for a player in the past few years, Valencia moved backwards from his preferred spot on the forward wing to right-back under current manager van Gaal.
Defensive midfield: Francis Coquelin (Arsenal), 4.9m
One of the players most likely to break out this season, Coquelin had a stellar latter half of last season after returning from loan to cover for injuries in midfield. The Guardian calls his role in the Arsenal midfield “vital” and he could be the key to any success the club has this season.
Central midfield: Fabian Delph (Manchester City), 7m
After his controversial exit from Aston Villa, Delph has a lot to prove at the cash-soaked club, least of which is the accusation from many that he was only signed to fill the English-born player quota. Is extremely talented and, had he not left, would have surely been Aston Villa’s best player.
Central midfield: Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), 18.2m
One of the most creative players in England, Cazorla provides everything from a killer passing instinct to solid finishing skills.
Left winger: Andre Ayew (Swansea), 9.1m
Sure, Swansea actually paid nothing for him, so while they DO have a bargain in the Ghanaian, he is probably worth more than his projected value. Had a stellar season at Marseille last year and should light it up in England.
Center forward: Christian Benteke (Liverpool), 14m
Liverpool paid far more than Benteke’s market value this summer, but he and the club will be hoping he’s up for the challenge regardless. With 15 goals in all competitions in one of the least creative squads in the league last season, Benteke should have far more to offer with two creative wingers and a creative passer behind him, just like he will have at Liverpool.
Right winger: Dusan Tadic (Southampton), 10.5m
Another rising star in England, the Serbian has a lot to prove, especially at a club that turns rising stars into superstars regularly. Expected to be one of the main creative sources at Southampton this season.
Total price, based on transfermarkt.co.uk figures: £98.7 million. Close enough? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.