There was a flurry of activity towards the end of the transfer window which should have some fantasy impact, even if we didn't see any real big names arriving from overseas or switching EPL allegiances. In some ways this is no bad thing as top rated prospects will be valued as such (see David Silva) and you cannot afford to take a punt with 9m. For a lesser known player though, that 5.0m or 6.0m investment might prove to be fruitful down the road. A note of caution though: I would rarely, if ever, pick up a player for a new club before he has at least played two or three games. Their fitness, communication skills, adaptability and role at their new club are all uncertain at this point and it is needlessly risky to waste a transfer and money on a player that might not even feature for a month.
Alexander Hleb - Birmingham
Probably the most widely known in EPL circles of the players arriving late in the window, I think Hleb is a giant coup for Birmingham and might deliver great fantasy production down the line. I liked but didn't love Hleb during his time at Arsenal and he scored just 7 goals in 89 games but did contribute decent assist numbers. I think his fantasy value will be - of course - dictated by the value given to him in the game, along with his role at Birmingham. A couple of seasons ago at Arsenal Hleb was deployed behind Van Persie when Adebayor was injured and he excelled, pulling the strings in the 'hole' and generally being involved in most things Arsenal did. There is room for such a player at Birmingham but it is unclear if McLeish will favour a long term top-two of Zigic and Cameron or stick with a 4-5-1. I think Hleb has some value as a 4-4-2 winger but I would hesitate to spend more than 6.0m in such a role due to the availability of other proven entities like Bale, Adam Johnson and even Paul Scholes who are available for under 7m. If he plays in the hole I might be willing to go to the 7.5m range as there aren't too many midfielders around these days who play in the trequartista role and dominate a team's play, opening themselves up to bonus points galore. I am interested but I fear the price might be too steep based on his reputation.
Might carry some value later but will likely be overpriced.
Asamoah Gyan - Sunderland
The boys on ESPN were less than complementary about this signing and while I agree that Sunderland paid a grossly inflated price (they allegedly tried to sign him a year ago for £3.5m), I don't think the signing is bad per se. I too am not a fan of big transfers that happen off the back of a successful World Cup campaign but Gyan does have some proven talent and has played well before in a top league while at Udinese. Gyan is most remembered for his goal in the World Cup against the US in extra time and for his penalty miss against Uruguay in the quarter finals, but his play throughout the tournament was solid, showing pace, power and a willingness to chase a lost cause, all of which translate well to the EPL. His club goal scoring record is decent if not great (1 in 3.5 games while at Udineses, Modena and Rennes) and I think he represents an upgrade over the sluggish Kenwyne Jones, who didn't connect with Bent as well as he should.
Fantasy wise I am not on board unless Gyan is very cheap as new strikers rarely hit the ground running and he won't have penalty duty as he does with his country. I would guess he will be valued at around 7.0m which would make him tough to pick ahead of the likes of Zamora, Davies or Rodallega. His pace makes his a danger and he is worth monitoring but I fear he might be overvalued this year.
Could have some spot start value if he settles in quickly and isn't overpriced.
Paul Konchesky (5.0m) - Liverpool
I have alluded to Konchesky's value before given his low value when compared to his teammates. His transfer to Liverpool was one of the worst kept secrets of the off season and now the deal is done, all that remains to be seen is where he fits into Hodgson's plans. Agger has already suggested that he is not fully comfortable at left back and so it would seem likely that he will switch back to CB to rotate with Skrtel alongside Carragher while Konchesky should be be fairly unopposed on the left. At 5.0m he is therefore outstanding value as Hodgson should make Liverpool a good defensive unit (despite the loss of Mascherano) and Konchesky could be one of the better value players when the season ends.
Potential to be one of the best value defenders around if he locks down a first team job.
Eidur Gudjohnsen - Stoke
Long time readers will know of my admiration for Eidur, who remains one of my all time favourite Wanderers despite having left the Whites back in 2000. His intelligence on the field have allowed Gudjohsen to continue to contribute to his teams, though he has failed to cement a place at a club in the past few years and has bounced around after leaving Barcelona in 2009. He did okay last season at Spurs scoring twice in 13 appearances but never really shone the way he did at Chelsea where he formed a deadly partnership with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (54 goals in 182 games). I hate to say it but I think those memories are carrying Eidur a bit these days and with Stoke already boasting Fuller, Jones, Tuncay and Beattie I think Gudjohnsen's minutes will once again be limited.
Has lost his way a bit since leaving Barcelona and might not get enough minutes to contribute
Franco Di Santo (4.7m) - Wigan
Another former Chelsea player who seems to be bouncing around these days is Franco Di Santo. He disappointed at Blackburn last season managing just one goal and I don't see him as anything more than a rotation player at Wigan. Very little fantasy value here unless Rodallega and Boselli get injured or you are desperate for a sub-5m player and don't like any of the Blackpool boys.
I can't see enough minutes or quality teammates for Di Santo to help you this season
Jermaine Pennant - Stoke
How do these players keep getting hired? Pennant has floated round 8 clubs since 2002 and has caused trouble at most them without ever justifying his behaviour with performances on the field. Incredibly he played 76 games for Liverpool from 2006-08 yet I can recall almost no performances of note from this period of his career. He was widely criticised while at Zaragoza, turning up late to training and being disciplined on what seemed like a monthly basis. I am surprised that Pulis would want this kind of player in his dressing room and while some might buy into the 'tough manager getting the best out of a troubled player' I cannot even see the bangwagon as I am so far away.
I cannot emphasize enough how little I want any part of Pennant
Hatem Ben Arfa - Newcastle
Ben Arfa seems to have been around for a while but is only 23, thanks to the hype he received as a 15 year old player at the legendary Clairefontaine training academy. Yet another player given the jinxed 'next Zidane' label Ben Arfa has not yet justified this attention and has been far from prolific as a left sided forward in the 4-3-3 nothcing just 16 goals in 127 games.
If he is given a low enough price tag then I think Ben Arfa might have some value as a rotation midfielder but I would be hesitant to pay more than 6.0m for a player who has demonstrated inconsistency and a knack for squabbling with teammates and opponents throughout his career. If nothing else games with Arsenal should be interesting as Ben Arfa has publicly fought with both Diaby (while at Clairefontaine) and Squillaci (while at Lyon).
Might be useful at the right price but is risky due to his temperament and rotation threat
Rafael Van der Vaat - Tottenham
I like Van der Vaat alot but this looks like the kind of signing you would make on Football Manager just because a good player is available, even if he doesn't fit your team shape or needs. Assuming Bale and Lennon are considered to be every week starters, that leaves Huddlestone, Palacios, Jenas, Modric, Kranjcar, Giovani and Bentley competing for 2 places, unless of course Redknapp moves to a 4-5-1 which seems unlikely given Defoe's size and poor fit in such a system. The sensible guess would be a combination of either Huddlestone/Palacios and Van der Vaat but I doubt Modric will not get any minutes from here on in. In short, the rotation risk surrounding Van der Vaat is huge, so much so in fact that I cannot recommend picking up the Dutch wizard despite my admiration for his talents. If he is playing every week I think he could justify a price right up in the Cahill, Valencia, Lennon range but until that is proven I will stay away.
Tremendous upside but only with proven minutes. One to watch.
The transfer window flattered to deceive a touch and there is limited fantasy, which to be honest is usually the case. I am skeptical of players moving teams, especially from other countries and fitting in immediately and so while some of the above players look tempting, I am only targeting Konchesky is the short term, provided he beats out Agger at left back for Liverpool.
As you know it's the international break this week so I will be back with a few random features given the lack of weekly preview column. As always, thanks for reading and please post your comments, thoughts and questions below or @plfantasy.