Fantasy Football: Rising stars
By: Matt BrocklebankLast Updated: July 18 2016, 8:53 BST
Have you spotted the young Premier League talent that could put you ahead of your Sky Sports Fantasy Football rivals?
Michy Batshuayi: New Chelsea striker could make a major impact
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Michy Batshuayi: New Chelsea striker could make a major impact
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It's hard enough for highly-paid professional scouts to know exactly which young guns will fire and which may falter, but Fantasy Football bosses have the added pressures of figuring out which players will be given the chance to produce.
The likes of Dele Alli, Marcus Rashford and Ross Barkley emerged to post impressive figures last year and here Matt Brocklebank highlights a starting XI of potential rising stars for the upcoming season...
Jack Butland (GK, £6.4m) - Stoke
Stoke's Jack Butland was agonisingly injured in England's friendly against Germany just before the Euros began and had to sit and suffer from home as the summer tournament played out. Joe Hart hardly covered himself in glory between the posts for the Three Lions and that should provide Butland with further motivation to impress at club level in the early stages of the 2016/17 Premier League campaign. The cool-headed 23-year-old showed admirable patience before earning his first-team spot in the Potters' team but there's no doubt he had taken to the role smoothly before injury struck. He's a relative veteran of the 'rising stars' series now but goalkeepers tend not to peak well into their careers and there's still so much more to come from the young stopper.
Eric Bailly (DEF, £9.2m) - Manchester United
Eric Bailly has to carry the tag of being Jose Mourinho's first signing as Man United manager but many people at the club feel he's well up to the burden of such responsibility. Having reportedly cost somewhere in the region of £30m from Villarreal, Fantasy Football managers shouldn't be too put off by his £9.2m price and, having been spotted wearing the No. 6 shirt in an early training session a few weeks back, there's a decent chance he could be right at the core of Mourinho's thinking. Jose's defensive-mindedness might not be to the liking of every United fan out there, but it should yield a bagful of clean sheets and Fantasy managers must consider Bailly closely given he weighs in £0.8m cheaper than likely centre-back partner Chris Smalling.
Ben Gibson (DEF, £6.3m) - Middlesbrough
Gibson is another who only just sneaks into the category as a pretty well-established 23-year-old, but he's probably not so well known by many Premier League viewers and looks worthy of inclusion following an excellent contribution in Middlesbrough's promotion campaign from the Sky Bet Championship. You get the impression Gibson can't have had it easy very early in his career, being the nephew of Boro chairman Steve Gibson, but he's matured pretty swiftly and helped his side concede just 31 goals last term, the best defensive record in the top four tiers of the English pyramid. With England assessing his progress and a number of other clubs reportedly interested, Gibson should be on the radar of every Fantasy Football manager.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah (DEF, £6.5) - Manchester United
There has to be a chance that some of the United young guns blooded by Louis van Gaal last season will be forced to take more of a back seat under the new manager, but Timothy Fosu-Mensah looks well placed to mount a serious bid for a place in the side. His versatility is a real asset as he's quite comfortable in a defensive midfield role as well as playing right across the back four, with centre-back ultimately the place he probably wants to be. The 18-year-old possesses incredible pace and his performances towards the end of last season, although fairly limited, saw him called up to the Netherlands squad which bodes well for the future. He might be a slow burner for Fantasy Football managers and might be worth monitoring until United's plans become a little clearer, but those taking the plunge with the Dutchman from the start could be in an extremely strong position if Mourinho decides to put faith in him.
Joe Gomez (DEF, £6.4m) - Liverpool
Joe Gomez is another talented youngster who ended last season on the sidelines. He has suffered another injury setback but looks set to be available soon after the start of the season. Former Charlton full-back Gomez was part of the England U-17 team that claimed the European Championships in Malta two years ago and it was in international colours that he picked up his season-ending injury just seven matches into his Anfield career with the U18s. He had made a really good impression until that point, including the odd appearance at centre-back, and although he claims a ruptured anterior knee ligament meant he "had to learn how to walk again", his rehab has reportedly gone very well. With major doubts around the Liverpool left-back position following the Europa League final, manager Jurgen Klopp could give Gomez his chance to shine there, or he may even be capable of pushing Nathaniel Clyne close for a starting spot on the opposite flank.
Robert Kenedy (MID, £7.3m) - Chelsea
The name Kenedy might be a fairly familiar one now with Premier League viewers but it's worth pointing out Chelsea's Brazilian star is still just 20 years of age and he could have a big say in the upcoming campaign if afforded some game-time by new manager Antonio Conte. Kenedy's versatility will be a big draw for the pragmatic Conte, who could be tempted to use him on the left side of midfield as his defensive capabilities are unquestionable following several outings as full-back under Guus Hiddink.
Joshua Onomah (MID, £7.5m) - Tottenham
Competition for places in the Tottenham line-up already looks to have increased in relation to last season, but every young player in the Spurs set-up is safe in the knowledge that they'll be handed opportunities somewhere along the line by manager Mauricio Pochettino. Moreover, they know that if they impress, they'll be trusted. Onomah has only made seven fleeting appearances but the local Enfield lad showed glimmers of promise when brought off the bench, without quite managing to get on the scoresheet. There's room for improvement in his all-round game and the arrival of Eredivisie top scorer Vincent Janssen means he'll have to push for an attacking midfield place, or out wide, rather than up front, but Onomah could be worth chancing given Spurs' proven policy of eliciting progress from their under-21s.
Jonathan Leko (MID, £6.6m) - West Brom
Darren Fletcher was West Brom's highest-scoring Fantasy Football contributor with 108 points last season and there must be a decent chance Jonathan Leko can surpass that tally this time around. Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo but capped at U16 and U17 level for England, the speedy winger impressed in just a handful of appearances towards the end of last season for the Baggies. The 17-year-old has been at the club since he was 11 and has been brought along steadily, but next term could see him take a big leap forward in his development. Tony Pulis was full of praise for the teen earlier this year and will be keen to inject a touch of attacking flair into his typically robust side.
Duncan Watmore (MID, £8.1m) - Sunderland
Not many Premier League stars have a first-class degree in economics and business management but Duncan Watmore, who was given time off training to collect his honours last year, looks a special sort of talent on and off the pitch. Unsurprisingly given his massive workload while trying to juggle student life with Premier League survival at Sunderland, it's Watmore's industry and work ethic that make him stand out, although he also possesses that attacking instinct which could see him reward Fantasy managers handsomely. He only scored 58 points in 2015/16, one point less than team-mate Lee Cattermole, but he was just about the only player in the Black Cats ranks who gave the home fans real hope during some of the grimmest months and it's no surprise to see his asking price has risen from £3.8m to £8.1m, although much of that rise is due to enhanced transfer budget. He started six times last season but still managed three goals and looks a really smart prospect, in more ways than one.
Michy Batshuayi (STR, £11.5m) - Chelsea
Belgium's embarrassment of riches in the centre-forward position, namely Romelu Lukaku, Christian Benteke and Divock Origi, meant Batshuayi's game time was limited at Euro 2016, but he did grab a goal from the substitutes' bench against Hungary. The 22-year-old scored 17 times in Ligue 1 last season and will become the most expensive sale in Marseille's history. Following in the footprints of Didier Drogba, he leaves the Stade Velodrome for Stamford Bridge and after scoring 33 goals in 78 appearances in toal for the French club, Chelsea fans will be dreaming of the youngster eventually making a similar impact to club legend Drogba. There's an argument to suggest this season may come too soon for Batshuayi, especially with Diego Costa still very much considered the main man in the Blues' forward ranks, but he is without doubt one of the brightest prospects to have joined the Premier League this summer and cannot be left out of calculations, despite his lofty price tag.
Lys Mousset (STR, £ 7.1m) - Bournemouth
"I had a fair amount of offers, from Torino, CSKA Moscow, Tottenham and Sevilla but I felt Bournemouth [was the right club]," Mousset said after sealing his move to the Vitality Stadium. These type of lines have to be taken with a pinch of salt, but there were definitely some major clubs interested in the 20-year-old prior to his switch. Another rising French star, the Montivilliers-born forward has impressed in a short space of time for his big local club Le Harve in Ligue 2, scoring 14 goals in 34 appearances. Whether he snubbed Spurs or not, he will be given every chance to prove himself under the shrewd tutelage of Eddie Howe at Bournemouth and considering the progress of Callum Wilson and Josh King, Mousset could be the next major improver for the Cherries.
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