One of the downsides of real football is the need for a balanced midfield.
For every Zinedine Zidane there’s a Claude Makelele nearby, and for every Kaka there’s a Gennaro Gattuso.
Dream Team gaffers aren’t bound by such necessities as fantasy football is all about goal involvements.
The likes of Rodri, Fabinho, N’Golo Kante and Wilfred Ndidi are mighty fine players but their brilliance does not translate to mega points.
When selecting your midfield you need to consider the most attacking options available.
In an attempt to predict which midfielders will score the most goals and provide the most assists in 2020/21, we took a look at the relevant stats for 2019/20.
Top goalscoring midfielders (Premier League 2019/20):
- Kevin De Bruyne – 13 goals
- Riyad Mahrez – 11 goals
- Willian – 9 goals
- Christian Pulisic – 9 goals
- Dele Alli – 8 goals
- Bruno Fernandes – 8 goals
- Jack Grealish – 8 goals
- Mason Mount – 7 goals
- Harry Wilson – 7 goals
It’s worth noting that some players who were listed as midfielders in last season’s game have been reclassified as forwards.
So if you’re wondering why the likes of Raheem Sterling and Sadio Mane have been omitted, it’s because our focus is on the 2020/21 season and so we’re only interested in those who will be categorised as midfielders for the campaign ahead.
The fact only four midfielders outscored Bruno Fernandes should raise some eyebrows given the Portuguese played his football for Sporting CP until January.
The quick feet of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood have drawn plenty of fouls in the box and so Fernandes has cashed in with a flurry of penalties — they all count.
Arsenal fans will note that only two Man City superstars outscored their new signing Willian.
The Brazilian is a reliable Dream Ream performer who consistently floats around the top midfielders even when faced with criticism.
Top assist-providing midfielders (Premier League 2019/20):
- Kevin De Bruyne – 20 assists
- Riyad Mahrez – 9 assists
- Adama Traore – 9 assists
- Harvey Barnes – 8 assists
- Willian – 7 assists
- Bruno Fernandes – 7 assists
- Bernardo Silva – 7 assists
Again, we have omitted non-midfielders and those who won’t be eligible for selection in 2020/21, hence no Trent Alexander-Arnold, David Silva, etc.
De Bruyne’s superiority is almost laughable as the Belgian tops both lists — he equalled Thierry Henry’s record for most assists in a Premier League season on the last day.
The 29-year-old is arguably the best player in the league and will undoubtedly be a popular man among Dream Team gaffers.
When you look at these stats, the question has to be: can you afford not to have De Bruyne?
Mahrez, Willian and Fernandes appear in both lists and that alone means each demand serious consideration.
Only De Bruyne achieved more 7+ ratings than Traore last season and the Wolves winger’s scarcely believable dribbling ability secured him plenty of Star Man awards too.
Barnes’ inclusion may surprise some.
Leicester’s 22-year-old impressed down the left flank and finished the league season with 14 goal involvements despite starting just 24 games.
If Barnes can build on his performances from 2019/20 he may even work his way into Gareth Southgate’s plans for Euro 2021.
It would be remiss to end without mentioning a new arrival to the league.
Hakim Ziyech will don Chelsea blue this coming season after several eye-catching performances for Ajax in Europe.
The Morocco international scored twice and provided four assists in six Champions League appearances.
He’s scored 24 goals and registered 25 assists in the Eredivisie since the start of 2018/19 and while the Dutch top flight is not equivalent to the Premier League, those number can’t be ignored.