Generally speaking we prefer to highlight successful assets when analysing the Dream Team landscape.
But there’s no getting around the fact a huge part of the game revolves around recognising which popular players are failing to meet expectations.
With that in mind, we’ve assembled a harshly-named Biggest Flop XI for the 2021/22 season.
Please bear in mind that our selections are based on pre-season expectations meaning the team is very different from an outright worst XI which, realistically, would be made up largely of relegated players.
GOALKEEPER: Emi Martinez (£2.2m)
The Argentine custodian was a Dream Team gem who punched well above his weight last season.
As a result, the 29-year-old was a popular recruit ahead of the new term but he wasn’t able to replicate his healthy returns.
Aston Villa found clean sheets harder to come by than most anticipated and Martinez consequently mustered just 64 points.
As a measure of faith put in him, he finished the campaign with a higher ownership than Jose Sa (£2.9m) and Hugo Lloris (£3.9m), two of the five keepers who achieved 100+ points.
DEFENDER: Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£2.6m)
Old Trafford’s resident spider was a reliable performer last season who racked up a hefty total through regular clean sheets coupled with 7+ ratings.
This season, however, he was one of many Man United players whose individual form reflected the team’s dysfunctional nature.
Formerly considered one of the best one-v-one defenders in Europe, Wan-Bissaka lost his place to Diogo Dalot (£2.8m) and scraped together a measly 35 points.
DEFENDER: Caglar Soyuncu (£1.9m)
Leicester’s defence was their undoing in 2021/22.
The likes of James Maddison (£5.6m), Harvey Barnes (£4.3m) and Jamie Vardy (£4.6m) were effective in attack by their efforts were constantly undermined by frailties at the back, particularly at set-pieces.
The Foxes’ Turkish centre-back was far from the only member of the squad responsible but the contrast between his form in recent months compared to his impressive debut campaign is too stark to pass without comment.
Soyuncu’s combative style looks great when he’s in the groove but when he’s not at his best he looks clumsy and reckless.
The 26-year-old averaged just 1.1 points-per-game for Dream Team gaffers for a total of 45.
DEFENDER: Harry Maguire (£2.5m)
It’s impossible to stray too far from Man United given the premise of this exercise.
It feels like a long time ago now but the Red Devils actually finished as Premier League runners-up in 2020/21 and their captain amassed 184 points to end as the fifth-best asset in his position.
Even more recently, Maguire impressed at Euro 2020, stacking up plentiful points for Dream Team Euros gaffers.
However, it’s been a disastrous club campaign for the England international who has found himself the butt of Twitter’s cruellest jokes.
Maguire could only clobber together 46 points from his 36 appearances in 2021/22.
DEFENDER: Luke Shaw (£2.6m)
It’s more of the same here, regrettably.
Man United’s left-back was by far and away the most popular defender prior to the Game Week 1 after a high-class showing at Euro 2020 but that form vanished swiftly before injuries compounded the misery for a significant percentage of Dream Team managers.
36 points for Shaw when the fat lady warbled her last note – ouch!
MIDFIELDER: Naby Keita (£1.6m)
The former RB Leipzig midfielder is evidently a talented footballer but it hasn’t fully clicked for him at Liverpool.
He’s been good in spells but inevitably a less convincing period follows and the cycle repeats.
This season, Keita produced four goals and two assists which feels below par for somebody who is supposed to be the most attack-minded of the midfield trio when he plays.
Of course he offers more than goal involvements but from a Dream Team perspective it’s hard to look past the underwhelming surface stats, especially considering he represents a dominant team that score so many goals.
55 points from 40 games is all a bit… meh.
MIDFIELDER: Jadon Sancho (£2.4m)
Another victim of gargantuan pre-season expectations.
As one of the most high-profile summer transfers, many gaffers were sucked into the dream of the youngster replicating his scintillating Borussia Dortmund form in the Premier League.
Alas, it was not to be as Sancho was enveloped in Old Trafford malaise.
He showed glimpses of his ability at times but, again, five goals and three assists represents roughly 25% of what many had hoped would materialise.
Incredibly, Sancho’s ownership never dipped below 10% even though his end total of 62 points was eclipsed by Josh Brownhill (£2.1m).
MIDFIELDER: Jack Grealish (£4.0m)
With 102 points to his name, Man City’s No10 is actually one of the more prosperous names on this list.
However, his returns simply haven’t matched up with his ownership, which put him among the top ten most-popular assets in his position all season long.
Pep Guardiola would gesture to the underlying statistics that portray Grealish as an elite creator who didn’t get the assists he deserved but Dream Team cares not for the microscopic details – goals involvements reign supreme, simple as that.
Six goals and four assists just doesn’t cut it if you want to challenge the likes of Kevin De Bruyne (£7.9m) at the top of the rankings.
FORWARD: Danny Ings (£2.8m)
The general consensus when Aston Villa suddenly announced the signing of the England international from Southampton was that it was a very smart bit of business.
Ings plundered 38 goals in 75 appearances for Saints after his permanent switch to St Mary’s and most had him earmarked for a double-digit tally in the league at the very least for his first campaign at Villa Park.
More Dream Team gaffers than you’d think opted for the 29-year-old as their differential third forward but they were largely disappointed as he mustered seven goals at an average of one every 285 minutes for just 80 points.
FORWARD: Romelu Lukaku (£4.5m)
The hulking Belgian’s final total of 130 points was just enough to see him finish inside the top ten forwards.
When you put it like that his inclusion here feels harsh but it’s important to consider the full context.
Lukaku was among the pre-season favourites for the Premier League Golden Boot and, in the realm of Dream Team, it was anticipated that he would compete with Harry Kane (£8.2m), Cristiano Ronaldo (£7.6m) and Mohamed Salah (£7.3m) at the top of the rankings.
In reality, he was well off the pace of the top boys from October onward – even accounting for injury absences he fell well short of what was expected of him.
FORWARD: Marus Rashford (£2.7m)
Given the theme of this article it’s only right we finish with another Man United asset.
Did you know the Red Devils’ No10 finished with 257 points last season, just eight shy of Salah’s total?
Well, this term, Rashford was 296 points adrift of the Egyptian – oceans apart.
A summer reset is very much needed.