Fantasy potential of five big-name January transfers

By Azmin Mohd Khalib 29 January 2018 1469
Fantasy potential of five big-name January transfers
With the mid-season transfer window nearing its end, here’s a look at five significant acquisitions done this January and their Fantasy Premier League potential.

Alexis Sanchez (11.7m, Manchester United)
It doesn’t get much bigger than this guy, at least where fantasy potential is concerned. Readers of my column will know that he’s been a feature in my articles leading up to the transfer window, with the main speculation being whether he would regain his form before January comes around. Well, we know now that apart from two or three matches where he did well, he did not fare greatly.

A BBC Sport report says that in his debut against Yeovil Town, Sanchez lost the ball a staggering 31 times. It’s all okay when Manchester United win, but if they start losing, those stats will get scrutinised a lot closer, and Mourinho’s patience will only go so far. 

In any case, let’s face it, we haven’t had anyone in Manchester United this season with such explosive potential. Romelu Lukaku was consistent early in the season without any real fireworks, while Jesse Lingard has shown promise. Ultimately it all depends how Jose Mourinho sets it up, but we all know Sanchez is not a park-the-bus style player, even against the big teams.

Verdict: Expensive pick, so fantasy managers should wait and see how he fits.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan (7.6m, Arsenal)
If there’s one thing I can conclude with his stint in Manchester United is that this man does not like defending. That almost certainly spelled doom for him in a typical Jose Mourinho team (with Cristiano Ronaldo being the obvious exception), sooner or later. Once he started losing form attacking wise, there wasn’t much reason left to keep him in the lineup.

Will Arsene Wenger free him of defensive responsibilities (perfect for our fantasy pickings)? Or will he also try to change him? Not ruling out Mkhitaryan as a box-to-box midfielder must surely set off alarms as to how Wenger thinks, but the next match against defensive-minded Swansea will be perfect for him to showcase his attacking skills as he should not have to bother too much about defending.

Verdict: His price is fantastic for a potentially strong attacker, and worth jumping onto the bandwagon early despite questions about his form.
Virgil Van Dijk (5.5m, Liverpool)
Despite kicking off his Liverpool career with a game-winning goal against Everton in the FA Cup, the next two matches saw Liverpool succumb to familiar defensive troubles, seemingly indicating that Virgil Van Dijk might not be the quick fix for Liverpool’s defensive woes.

Call me biased, but I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt. There will be hiccups at the start, but what’s important is for him to forget about the pressure that comes with his price tag, and concentrate on being the leader in that defence. He’s shown in previous clubs what he is capable of, and with his goal-scoring potential (at least compared to Liverpool’s current centrebacks), he is primed to be a strong fantasy pick. This midweek match against Huddersfield could see the start of that.

Verdict: His price is manageable, especially if he can be a consistent goal-scoring threat.

Cenk Tosun (7.5m, Everton)
Another early January acquisition that hasn’t hit the ground running, this week Everton face Leicester at home, and it’s looking like a must-win, if only for morale. While Everton are decently placed at ninth place in the table, the fact is they have not won a game for seven Premier League matches now, with their last victory coming against Swansea in Gameweek 18.

While those matches included understandable losses to Spurs and Manchester United, they also recorded two draws against West Brom and a loss against Bournemouth. Everton need their point man to score, and after two starting appearances without a win, the fans are growing impatient. Tosun needs to find the net, and the match against Leicester is as good as any.

Verdict: At a price of 7.5m, it’s without a doubt a risk. He needs to be on the same wavelength with players like Gylffi Sigurdsson, so Sam Allardyce needs to work on it.
Guido Carillo (6.5m, Southampton)
Managing to get a striker with Champions League experience is always considered a coup when you’re a team currently at the wrong end of the table. Mauricio Pellegrino has worked with him before, and that can only be in his favour. He is primarily a target man and should fit nicely into the manager’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, with full-backs flying in with crosses.

At a club-record fee, you’d back him to start quickly, especially with Charlie Austin out and other Southampton strikers not stepping up. The Saints also have a great run of  upcoming matches, starting with Brighton this gameweek. All signs point to a good acquisition, provided Carillo gets the supply.

Verdict: A price of only 6.5m makes the case to buy him even stronger.

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Azmin Mohd Khalib