It’s highly likely that during the process of crafting your Dream Team you’ll find yourself in need of a bargain defender.
With highly-desirable, attack-minded assets like Mohamed Salah (£7.5m), Harry Kane (£7.5m) and Kevin De Bruyne (£7m) costing a proverbial arm and leg, balancing the books with savvy value-for-money defenders could be the way to go.
Before we get into our list of bargain defenders capable of punching above their weight this season, a quick note to say you really should pick your XI as soon as possible with Game Week 1 now just days away.
Diogo Dalot (£2.5m)
It seems reasonable to assume the Portuguese will start the season as Man United’s first-choice right-back.
The 23-year-old leaped ahead of Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£2.5m) in the pecking order last season and he looks set to retain that spot having looked in decent touch during pre-season under Erik ten Hag.
If the ex-Ajax coach can iron out some of the Red Devils’ problems and increase the regularity with which they keep clean sheets then Dalot looks very affordable.
He’s not one of those full-backs who contributes mountains of assists but he’s shown signs that he’s capable of chipping in going forward this term.
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Sven Botman (£2.5m)
Newcastle’s new addition at the back is a relatively popular selection in his price bracket with an ownership of 3.6%.
Plenty of Dream Team bosses expect Eddie Howe’s side to continue the uprising they began last term which saw them accelerate away from the relegation zone and end up just short of the top half.
With Nick Pope (£2.5m) also new on the scene at St James’ Park and Kieran Trippier (£3m) having regained fitness, Botman may be central to an improved defensive record for the Magpies.
The 22-year-old was a key figure for Lille when they upset PSG to win the Ligue 1 title in 2020/21 and has the necessary physicality to compete in the Premier League.
Backing Botman in Dream Team may be something of a risk as he’s untested on these shores and it’s difficult to predict exactly what level Newcastle will be at throughout 2022/23 but there’s definitely enough potential to interest gaffers.
Aaron Cresswell (£2.5m)
West Ham’s experienced left-back deserves recognition for his efforts across the last three seasons.
He’s provided 22 assists in all competitions since the start of 2020/21, most of them with his wand of a left foot.
A notable set-piece specialist, Cresswell is also an impressive crosser from open play, one who may benefit from the arrival of 6ft 5in Gianluca Scamacca (£2.5m) at the London Stadium.
David Moyes has done a great job in east London but the Hammers have conceded more goals than perhaps they should have in recent times.
Brighton, Wolves and Crystal Palace all boasted better defensive records in 2021/22 – the question is whether Cresswell’s attacking efforts are enough to compensate for the odd minus point.
Tariq Lamptey (£2m)
Brighton’s pocket-sized dynamo has been threatening to take Dream Team by storm for a while now.
Injuries have hampered his progress but there’s no denying the 21-year-old has something special about him – there’s an echo of Reece James (£5.5m) about some of his play down the right flank.
The Seagulls are generally pretty organised at the back – it’s their wastefulness up top that is their main frustration – with the likes of Adam Webster (£2.5m), Lewis Dunk (£2m) and Marc Cucurella (£3m) all seen as consistent performers when fit.
Lamptey is capable of seven or eight league assists this season, a tally that would make his starting price of £2m look very generous, but it all depends whether 2022/23 is the year his potential translates to substantial returns.
Takehiro Tomiyasu (£2.5m)
The first thing to note is that this may not be one for the start of the season as the Japan international is only expected to return to full training this week.
However, once the 23-year-old is up and running, he could offer excellent value for money as it’s likely he’ll regain his place as Arsenal’s starting right-back.
Tomiyasu endeared himself to fans with a series of solid performances last season before being sidelined with injury.
In some ways he’s an old-school full-back, one whose main strengths are heading, tackling and positioning, but that’s not to say there isn’t space for such players in 2022 and beyond.
In fact, the Gunners were crying out for such a player when he began to churn out 7/10 performances on a weekly basis.
Keep an eye out for William Saliba’s (£2.5m) returns this season too.