As news of Cristiano Ronaldo’s (£12.5m) return to Manchester United settles in for Fantasy Premier League managers, Chris Tan details what it could mean for our current FPL squads and beyond.
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How Much Will Ronaldo Cost in FPL?
Cristiano Ronaldo has been priced at £12.5m. Both Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane also started the season at £12.5m. Kevin De Bruyne and Bruno Fernandes were the tier below at £12.0m; and Romelu Lukaku was given an £11.5m price tag.
What can a 36-year-old Ronaldo add to the Title Contenders?
Looking at Ronaldo’s career stats draws my attention to a few key points.
- Playing Time – despite his advanced years, Ronaldo appears to be growing fitter with age. Based on his appearance stats, you’d expect him to play the majority of league games. He’s a 90 minute man and rarely misses a game. He started at least 30 league games each season at Juventus and averaged just under 90 minutes per appearance.
- Performance – he’s not quite at peak Madrid levels, but it’s been over 12 years since he scored less than 20 league goals in a season. In Serie A, he’s averaged 27 goals a season (21, 31 and 29) in a notoriously defensive league. Although not a prolific assister, he has them in his locker (8, 5 and 2).
- Per 90 minutes – these stats are elite. He’s almost at a goal per 90 minutes (0.76, 0.82 and 0.85) where 0.5 would be considered very good. To put it into perspective, in the Premier League last season, Jamie Vardy (£10.5m), Mohamed Salah (£12.6m) and Harry Kane (£12.4m) had the best stats in the league with 0.62, 0.61 and 0.60 goal per 90 stats respectively.
- Expected Data – he tends to consistently outperformed his xG stats (-1.7, +4.3, +2.5). He’s an excellent finisher.
What Position Will Ronaldo Play for Man United?
He began as a pacey winger, but in his later years at Man United then at Madrid, he evolved into a centre forward. The diagram below illustrates that he is very much a centre forward now.
This is ideal for Manchester United. They have an abundance of talent that can play in the wide positions but are lacking an elite number 9, particularly of Ronaldo’s calibre. He is also comfortable attacking from the left and fits Ole’s criteria for a fluid front three. He was actually part of the original fluid front three that Ole referred to with Rooney and Tevez.
Will Ronaldo be on Penalties for Man United?
Last season, Manchester United were awarded 11 penalties in the league, scoring 10 of them. That’s a pretty decent record, with Bruno Fernandes proving to be an expert penalty taker.
Ronaldo has scored 139 penalties in his career and has missed 27. That’s an 83.7% success rate. This isn’t in the elite category, but it’s still fairly good (especially when you consider the sheer volume he has taken). Despite the fact Fernandes deserves to retain his penalty taking duties, there’s a high probability Ronaldo will take United’s penalties anyway, judging by what happens with Portugal.
His force of personality, combined with his hunger for goals, could be a key factor. The fact he and Fernandes are personal friends might also play into penalty taking negotiations.
The addition of Jadon Sancho (£9.3m) could also lead to an increase in the number of penalties awarded to Manchester United.
Ronaldo’s Aerial Threat
With Edinson Cavani (£8.5m) still not in contention for a starting berth, Man United’s aerial threat tends to come from their centre-backs. Namely, Harry Maguire (£5.5m).
That could all change if Ronaldo joins, however, his propensity to “hover” in the air had lead to 115 headed career goals. For context, Cavani has just 27.
With the likes of Fernandes, Sancho, Paul Pogba (£7.7m) and Luke Shaw (£5.5m) providing plenty of crosses, Ronaldo could thrive in the air for Man United from open play and set pieces. It could also bode extremely well for his providers.
How Will Manchester United Line-up With Ronaldo?
Despite his versatility, it’s highly likely Ronaldo will be utilised as a forward for Man United. In turn, that would almost certainly make him a forward in FPL.
His starting berth could well threaten Mason Greenwood‘s, particularly if Sancho continues to develop. With that said, the young Englishman could still make an impact coming in from the left, or rotating on the right with Sancho if Solskjær prefers Anthony Martial (£7.8m) and when Rashford (£9.5m) eventually returns.
Luke Shaw and Bruno Fernandes look likely to benefit most. Their creativity is crying out for a clinical finisher, and Ronaldo certainly fits the bill.
If Pogba keeps up his brilliant assisting form, he could also find himself racking up the FPL points this season with Ronaldo as a target man.
Is Ronaldo a Good FPL Player?
Yes, Ronaldo is definitely a good FPL player. It’s clear that Manchester United are a huge source of FPL points and that Ronaldo has the potential to be their talisman.
The hard part is, how do you fit him in? After all, there are four equally viable premium players in the game.
Manchester United’s fixtures remain sympathetic in the short-medium term, and one must assume that Ronaldo would be fairly immune to a tough fixture anyway. He’s shown he can perform against the very best teams on the biggest occasions.
This season is shaping up to be one of the most exciting we’ve had for years, with the title race likely to be close and lots of premium assets to choose from. To do well, I believe you’re going to have to try and jump on these players at the right time and ride their purple patches.
Does Ronaldo Destroy the FPL Template?
We’ve had it easy for the first two gameweeks. We could just focus on midfield premiums with the occasional Kane flirtation. Now we truly have five solid premium choices that we need to be willing to accommodate.
A shift towards a premium midfield and forward structure will provide the flexibility to switch between the players with the best fixtures. I’ve used the most expensive premium for each position in this example.
I think the introduction of Ronaldo would certainly force many FPL managers into an earlier Wildcard than otherwise planned.
The obvious swap would be to remove Bruno Fernandes to free up funds. That could spell the end of him as an FPL asset if you account for the fact that Ronaldo will take penalty duties at Man United.
In short: the FPL template is most certainly going to change, because Ronaldo would likely be a part of it. Throwing an expensive forward into a mix of pre-existing premium options should yield far more variety in our FPL line-ups.
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