From the poll results, about 30 per cent of the visitors to this blog are looking for budget midfielders to replace Dimitri Payet and just over 20 per cent want a premium midfielder. However, almost half want a mid-price option and we’ll start the search there.
Although some Fantasy Premier League managers may have enough money in the bank that they don’t need to go hunting for a cheap Payet replacement, a few would undoubtedly welcome the chance to save an extra million to help them buy back Sergio Agüero when he is fit. As a result, Willian (6.9m) has been a popular name banded around as managers look to fill the Payet void. The thought process is obvious because the Chelsea player:
- costs 1.2m less than Payet
- plays for a big-name club (albeit one playing poorly this season)
- has recorded two goals and two assists this season
- is now getting 90-minute games, and
- has some good fixtures coming up (NOR, tot, BOU, lei, SUN, WAT).
But do the statistics indicate Willian is a good purchase?
The first thing regular visitors to this blog will notice is the yellow and green. I have had to break away from my usual colour scheme for the first time because Willian shoots so infrequently from inside the box that it would not have been possible to tell whether the last two recorded instances took place in Gameweek 4 or Gameweek 12. That propensity to shoot from distance is a big drawback with Willian. Shots taken from long-range usually have a far lower chance of being converted than shots taken inside the box.
The Brazilian’s shots on target to goals conversion rate is only a touch above average and the rate at which the chances he creates are turned into assists is standard. The problem is that Willian simply doesn’t do most of these things very often. He only played 47 minutes between Gameweeks 5 and 7, but even with that taken into account his figures aren’t great, as the next chart demonstrates.
The chart shows the how often per 90 minutes Willian, Mesut Özil (8.8m), Philippe Coutinho (8.2m) and Payet (8.2m) create assists and chances, and record shots, shots in the box, shots on target and goals.
We can quickly see that three of these players have stand out qualities. Özil and Payet are great creators of chances. Özil may be seeing those chances created turn into assists at a higher rate than we would normally expect, but the high frequency with which the German international creates chances means he should still do well even if that rate drops a bit.
In my recent review of Payet’s performance, I noted the French international’s chances created convertion rate could improve, while his shots on target conversion rate could decline. But the number of chances created and shots on target he took meant he remained a viable option until he was injured.
Coutinho doesn’t create many chances for team mates, but he does excel in taking lots of shots. However, it is worth noting that he has tended to inflate his figures in games against weak opposition this season. The Brazilian may run hot and cold for FPL managers who have him in their squad but at least he offers something.
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Willian doesn’t offer a clear advantage in any particular area and many FPL managers shopping in the higher mid-price bracket would like to know their midfielder can be a moderately good source of assists or goals or both.
The winger might provide a return for managers who bring him in because he is on free kicks and corners for Chelsea, and he does have some kind fixtures in the next six. Furthermore, his chances created numbers have improved with more game time. But Willian doesn’t currently offer enough creativity or goal threat to be my Payet replacement.