American football, we come in peace.
We’re not here to berate you for stealing the F-Word. We’re happy to share football, full-backs and free-kicks.
Nope. We’re actually here to steal an NFL concept. The NFL draft, to be specific.
The NFL draft takes a bit of getting your head around, especially when it comes to converting it over to football.
So allow us to simplify it. For a start we need our draft players. These come in the form of all 133 transfers, both permanent and temporary, made by Premier League clubs over the summer, including Liverpool’s purchase of Naby Keita.
Fulham head the draft, as they were promoted through the Championship, followed by Cardiff and then Wolves. From there it’s last season’s table in reverse order, minus the three relegated sides.
In order to simplify the process further, we’re going to invent a rule that states there’s only five rounds of draft picks. Anyone left after that will be available for the Championship vultures to scrap over.
Got it? Let’s proceed.
“So how’d you feel about becoming the no.1 draft pick,” shouts Fulham owner Shahid Khan down the phone as he strokes his magnificent moustache.
Naby Keita, on the other end of the phone, grins awkwardly with the air of a man who would rather be playing elsewhere but finds himself standing in front of Geoff Shreeves.
Cardiff pass up on Riyad Mahrez, with Neil Warnock unsure of how he would fare at left-back, and instead sign Fabinho, leaving the Algerian free to move to Wolves.
Three goalkeepers go in the first round as Huddersfield, West Ham and Bournemouth all fill their
Towards the bottom, Jack Wilshere is forced to rapidly delete all videos of him singing anti-Spurs songs as he rock up on at N17.
Fulham- Naby Keita, Cardiff- Fabinho, Wolves- Riyad Mahrez, Southampton- Jorginho, Huddersfield- Alisson, Brighton- Mateo Kovacic, Watford- Fred, West Ham- Rui Patricio, Bournemouth- Kepa Arrizabalaga, Crystal Palace- Richarlison, Newcastle- Max Meyer, Leicester- Xherdan Shaqiri, Everton- James Maddison, Burnley- Yerry Mina, Arsenal- Jean Michael Seri, Chelsea- Bernard, Liverpool- Fred, Spurs- Jack Wilshere, Man United- Felipe Anderson, Man City- Joao Moutinho
Lucas Torreira claims the ‘best of the rest’ prize for being the first pick of the second round while Warnock continues building his army by snapping up part-time MMA fighter Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Paul Merson will not be on Everton or Leicester Soccer Saturday duty after their signings of last season’s Eredivisie top scorer Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
There’s widespread disbelief as, for the second time in the draft, Jose Mourinho passes up the chance to bring a defender to Old Trafford.
Fulham- Lucas Torreira, Cardiff- Aleksandar Mitrovic, Wolves- Andriy Yarmolenko, Southampton- Bernd Leno, Huddersfield- Adama Traore, Brighton- Lucas Digne, Watford- Andre Gomes, West Ham- Alfie Mawson, Bournemouth- Andre Schurrle, Crystal Palace- Ricardo Pereira, Newcastle- Leander Dendoncker, Leicester- Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Everton- Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Burnley- Kurt Zouma, Arsenal- Luciano Vietto, Chelsea- James Evans, Liverpool- Willy Boly, Spurs- Kenedy, Man United- Gerard Deulofeu, Man City- Issa Diop
Mourinho quickly puts to bed any fears over his mental state by signing 6ft 7in centre-back Jannik Vestergaard and playing him in holding midfield.
World Cup winner Erik Durm can feel unlucky at having to wait for the third wave of draft picks to end up at Wolves, but at least he’s not joining Man City to sit and watch Ederson, which is the fate that befalls Spanish goalkeeper Sergio Rico.
Liverpool’s signing of Ben Gibson is a glimpse into a dystopian future in which Roy Hodgson had never been sacked and Mohamed Salah plays left-wing back for Sunderland.
Arsenal’s signing of Yves Bissouma has Arsene Wenger’s fingerprints all over it.
Fulham- Stephan Lichsteiner, Cardiff- Calum Chambers, Wolves- Erik Durm, Southampton- Matteo Guendouzi, Huddersfield- Andre-Frank Anguissa, Brighton- Salomon Rondon, Watford- Danny Ings, West Ham- David Brooks, Bournemouth- Ryan Fredericks, Crystal Palace- Sergio Rico, Newcastle- Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Leicester- Lucas Perez, Everton- Raul Jimenez, Burnley- Jefferson Lerma, Arsenal- Yves Bissouma, Chelsea- Martin Montoya, Liverpool- Ben Gibson, Spurs- Cheikhou Kouyate, Man United- Jannik Vestegaard, Man City- Sergio Rico
By this stage in the draft managers are frantically cold calling anyone who’ll pick up.
Is Fabian Schar any more worthy of going higher in the draft than Harry Arter? Probably not. Schar was just the first one to pick his phone up.
Joe Hart’s move to Cardiff has a reassuringly warm feel to it, sort of like when you go back ‘home home’ and that shit pub is still going strong, full of all the regulars.
Newcastle’s signing of Carlos Sanchez, coupled with the presence of Jonjo Shelvey, means the club don’t have to worry about accidentally topping the Fair Play table.
Fulham- Fabian Schar, Cardiff- Joe Hart, Wolves- Terrence Kongolo, Southampton- Matej Vydra, Huddersfield- Rachid Ghezzal, Brighton- Diego Dalot, Watford- Ki Sung-yueng, West Ham- Florin Andone, Bournemouth- Stuart Armstrong, Crystal Palace- Ken Sema, Newcastle- Carlos Sanchez, Leicester- Angus Gunn, Everton- Caglar Soyunucu, Burnley- Ruben Vinagre, Arsenal- Leon Balogun, Chelsea- Harry Arter, Liverpool- Jordan Ayew, Spurs- Fabri, Man United- Joe Bryan, Man City- Ramadan Sobhi
It’s time to be honest with you.
We went in with the best intentions of picking every player, analysing their strengths and weaknesses in minute detail and placing them at the appropriate club.
But by this stage in the draft it’s just not worth it.
We got a bit excited when we saw Mathieu Valbuena’s name, only to realise it was actually an uncapped Brazilian by the name of Fabian Balbuena whose start at West Ham has seen James Collins linked with a return to the London Stadium.
How do you separate Filip Benkovic and Ben Hamer? Isaac Mbenza and Joao Virginia? Vincente Guaita and Victor Camarasa? Nope, we just can’t do it.
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