£63m Man City forward and Liverpool-linked midfielder feature in 22/23 bargain Premier League XI
A ridiculous £63m Man City striker is the star player of this 2022/23 bargain Premier League XI, which also features former Arsenal and Tottenham flops…
GK: Nick Pope (£12m, Newcastle United)
The England international was one of Newcastle’s first signings during a summer transfer window which preceded a remarkable season for the sleeping giants.
The Magpies are way ahead of Man City in the development process and their sturdy defence set them up to finish in the top four earlier than most people expected.
Pope is Premier League-proven and he was always going to be a sure-fire hit at St James’ Park. He’s kept 14 clean sheets in the Premier League this season and there is a strong case for him to be in the Team of the Season.
RB: Serge Aurier (free transfer, Nottingham Forest)
Forest have been ridiculed for their transfer business this season. But 30 signings later, they secured Premier League safety with a game to spare.
Steve Cooper deserves immense credit for getting them over the line and Aurier has been one of their more surprising success stories.
The Ivory Coast international was regularly mocked during his four-year spell at Spurs and his arrival at Nottingham Forest was met with laughter from their rivals. But the 30-year-old appears to have matured with age as he has been pretty reliable for Cooper, with no Spurs-esque horror shows in sight.
CB: Ben Mee (free transfer, Brentford)
Following Burnley’s relegation, it was a no-brainer for Premier League clubs to snap up Mee on a free transfer. Prior to Vincent Kompany’s revolution, they based their success on being solid at the back under Sean Dyche and the defender was adored by the now-Everton head coach.
The 33-year-old has played in all but one of Brentford’s Premier League games and he’s formed a great partnership with Ethan Pinnock.
Thomas Frank’s side have gone under the radar to achieve a top-ten finish and on the evidence of this season, Mee looks to have a lot more still to give.
CB: Manuel Akanji (£15m, Manchester City)
Akanji is one of the steals of the season at £15m. This signing did not create much fanfare at the time, but he has been a sensational addition.
Pep Guardiola asks a lot of his defenders and he finds a way to turn his players into world-class operators in various positions; John Stones has flourished in midfield, while Akanji and Nathan Ake have impressed just as much as left-back as they have at centre-back.
Akanji has nudged himself ahead of Aymeric Laporte in the pecking order. No one could have seen this coming but the Switzerland star has gone above and beyond to justify the faith Guardiola is showing in him.
LB: Pervis Estupinan (£15m, Brighton)
The Seagulls are one of the best-run clubs in the Premier League and their recruitment department cannot miss right now.
They surely would have giggled all the way to the bank when Chelsea paid £62m for Marc Cucurella and his replacement – Estupinan – has ensured that there has not been a major drop-off in quality at left-back.
Brighton earn a profit on most of their players, with Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo likely to leave for over £100m combined this summer. After his stellar debut season, Estupinan is also on track to be sold for a large fee.
RM: Willian (free transfer, Fulham)
The 34-year-old has a chequered past in the Premier League; his highs at Chelsea were followed by a nightmare spell at Arsenal.
I figured the Premier League had seen the last of Willian when left Arsenal and joined Brazilian outfit Corinthians in 2021 but he was snapped up by Fulham last summer.
The Cottagers have learned from past mistakes to stay up with relative ease this season and the winger has surpassed expectations. His ten goal involvements in the Premier League is a great return for a player of his age. Fulham will be desperate to keep him next season and Arsenal will be wondering why they didn’t get this Willian at the Emirates.
CM: Christian Eriksen (free transfer, Manchester United)
Back in August, several F365 writers said Eriksen would be this season’s biggest bargain and they will smugly argue that they were spot on. Which is good as they f***ed everything else.
Man Utd’s midfield has improved significantly under Erik ten Hag and this is largely thanks to the presence of Eriksen and Casemiro.
Eriksen showed at Brentford last season that he can still cut it at the highest level and his strengths have only been highlighted alongside better players.
CM: Joao Palhinha (£20m, Fulham)
Fulham have been known to get their transfers very wrong when returning to the Premier League but they have got the majority of their signings bang on this term.
But Palhinha has stood out above everyone else as the defensive midfielder has barely put a foot wrong in his debut season in the Premier League.
His performances have caught the eye of several of Fulham’s rivals and Liverpool have added him to their ever-growing bingo sheet of midfield targets. The Cottagers will at least earn a huge profit if he does go, with their prized asset now valued at around £60m.
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LM: Wilfried Gnonto (£4m, Leeds United)
Pretty much from start to finish, this season has been a miserable one for Leeds United. There are very few positives they can take from this campaign but the signing of Gnonto has borne fruit.
Little was known about the 19-year-old Italian when he made his way to the unfamiliar surroundings of West Yorkshire, but he sparked Leeds into life on multiple occasions in the early stages of this season.
Gnonto has been in and out of the team since suffering an injury while representing Italy during the March international break and his fearless approach has been sorely missed during the run-in.
ST: Julio Enciso (£9.5m, Brighton)
If they have not been given one already, it is about time Brighton’s scouts were given a big pay rise. They have been consistently picking out cheap gems and Tottenham are the prime example of a team who would benefit from examining (and copying) the structure at the AMEX Stadium.
Enciso has been eased into the team as the season has progressed and the 19-year-old now has six goal involvements in his last 11 Premier League games (including a worldie against Man City) and he is set to play a prominent role in Brighton’s ventures around Europe next season.
ST: Erling Haaland (£63m, Manchester City)
City will pay over £200m for Haaland when his wages and bonuses are taken into account. As for the actual transfer fee, we’re only looking at £63m and this constitutes a bargain.
The rational folk among us will accept this as a reasonable take. Yet my final selection for this bargain XI will still ruffle a few feathers.
Some might ask, ‘How can £63m be classed as a bargain?’ But in the rare case of Haaland, it is. His 52-goal debut season has helped to progress an already-remarkable Man City team into GOAT territory. He’s an absolute snip.