The Scout looks at the best players for managers’ opening squads in Fantasy Premier League, according to price and position.
Upper mid-price and premium midfielders
It is somewhat remarkable that a player of Mohamed Salah’s (£12.5m) pedigree is owned by a mere 24 per cent of managers ahead of the new season.
The Egyptian has been the most reliable performer in the history of Fantasy, producing 230+ points in each of his six campaigns with Liverpool.
Salah has also been one of the standout performers over the summer so far. He has been involved in seven of his side’s 15 goals, scoring one and assisting six.
Salah’s relatively low popularity is mainly down to the massive 86 per cent ownership of Manchester City forward Erling Haaland (£14.0m).
Haaland's owners essentially plan to captain the Norwegian every Gameweek and are spreading their remaining funds over the rest of their squads, rather than splashing out on another premium star.
But by owning Salah as well as Haaland, managers have the chance to take advantage of their rivals’ Haaland-only armband policy by choosing their captain according to the fixtures.
In terms of goal threat, Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford (£9.0m), Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min (£9.0m), Arsenal's Bukayo Saka (£8.5m) and Liverpool’s Diogo Jota (£8.0m) are among the next-best alternatives to Salah.
Saka and Rashford have proven the most-popular midfielders, found in 55 and 42 per cent of squads respectively.
Both delivered their career-high hauls last season and have the opening fixtures to make a fast start to 2023/24.
Son’s drop in price from last season’s £12.0m means he could now offer huge value in Spurs’ first season under Ange Postecoglou.
The South Korean produced 220+ points in back-to-back campaigns before a disappointing 2022/23 in Antonio Conte’s final season in charge.
Jota a hidden gem?
Jota, meanwhile, has impressed over the summer with three goals and three assists.
The Liverpool star was involved in a team-high 46 per cent of his side’s goals last season, compared with the 43 per cent of Salah.
Jota also found the net at a quicker rate than the Egyptian, averaging a goal every 165.3 minutes to the 173.2 of Salah.
Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard and Man Utd’s Bruno Fernandes (both £8.5m) offer alternatives to their team-mates Saka and Rashford.
Odegaard delivered nine double-figure hauls in 2022/23, more than double the four of Saka, while Fernandes’ penalty-kick duties increase his appeal.
The Gunners are stocked full of options, with Gabriel Martinelli (£8.0m) and the versatile Leandro Trossard (£7.0m) more budget-friendly than Saka and Odegaard for a run of four home matches in the opening six Gameweeks.
Trossard could even start up front for the Gunners with Gabriel Jesus (£8.0m) ruled out of the first few matches through injury.
Man City pair Phil Foden and Jack Grealish (both £7.5m) offer far greater promise than Kevin De Bruyne (£10.5m) from the outset, at least, with the Belgian still to feature in pre-season as he steps up his fitness following injury.
Elsewhere, James Maddison (£7.5m) can be a major player for Spurs in their first campaign under Postecoglou. A kind schedule from Gameweek 3 can bring him into contention.
Also in this series
Part 1: Who are the best FPL goalkeepers for 2023/24?
Part 2: Who are the best FPL budget defenders for 2023/24?
Part 3: Who are the best mid-priced and premium FPL defenders?
Part 4: Who are the best FPL budget midfielders for 2023/24?
Part 6: Who are the best FPL forwards to pick alongside Haaland?