With the FA Cup weekend almost over (barring the now traditional Chong related excitement/crushing disappointment as Manchester United play tonight) we have an absolutely huge week of football to look forward to.

Those Champions League match ups are juicy, and the Europa League Round of 32 will conclude too. 

Particularly for the second legs, they are really something you have to pay attention to because elimination or progression has a huge impact on the perceived (and real) value. Not always in the way you might expect though. 

A team that people believe are pretty much already out, with a tough deficit to turn around against a superior team, will probably get away with it. The assumption of elimination is already there and will be factored into the price. 

Rather, it is the upsets we need to look out for. The results that shock the market and dump out a team that was expected to stroll through with ease. 

Those are the prices that will take a hammering, and for the winning side, will often send them flying. 

And then, do not forget we have the Europa Round of 16 draw on Friday which can have as big an impact as the games on prices. A tough or favourable draw will set the expectations and see the market moving before a ball has been kicked. 

Risers

Bruno Fernandes

Fernandes is showing immense form for Sporting Lisbon. 5 goals in 5. 

I’ve been banging on about Fernandes’ quality on this site for nearly a year now. His price tends to fluctuate heavily depending on the transfer rumours of the day. 

Those rumours have been gathering pace in recent months and he is heavily linked to several clubs including Chelsea and Atletico. But there will be others, it was Liverpool not long ago. 

As a player, he shows excellent FI performance scoring suitability. For a midfield player with a lot of  possession, he has superb goal threat and that sets him apart from most solid performance players. 

The only question is: will he make the transfer and will it to be a suitable club?

He also has an eligible game this Thursday in the Europa League. It’s a tough away game but if he can get another goal and Sporting progress he should see some reward.

But, as always with these knockouts it is a double edged sword and those who do not think he will get the transfer may make an exit if Sporting are eliminated. 

Jordan Veretout

A win for Veretout and he is a very consistent performer. 

He does well to challenge strongly at a smaller club like Fiorentina and we can expect him to do it fairly regularly throughout the season. He probably won’t be prolific, though. 

He has a strong baseline and is also on penalties, so if he gets the match winner you can rely on him pushing for a big score.

At the price, it’s not a bad hold for a patient trader. However, if he picked up some transfer interest and moved to a more performance suitable club, I’d get more interested. 

However, if the move means he loses penalties that could dent his appeal and he would need to show a bit more open play threat to compensate. At a more dominant club, that’s not impossible. 

Fallers

Rafael Leao

It was Feb 5th when I last covered Leao when he was rising strongly. 

I pointed out his weak performance credentials (and not for the first time) which have been obvious since the start of the season. 

No doubt many saw his poor score of 32 last night and chose to sell. But actually, this is what you can expect from him. On the games he doesn’t score, his scores will be abysmal. 

When he does score, he could push into the 120’s or 150’s. To win on a competitive day he would need at least two goals including the match winner. He is capable of that, but those days will probably not come often enough to justify a stellar price. 

This is an example of a common FI mistake at the moment. When you miss a player like Pepe and his price runs away, the search for “the next Pepe” starts. So people scrape the barrel thinking they are finding similar players that could emulate Pepe but they just aren’t of the same quality. 

It is possible to find such bargains but you have to know how and where to look for them. 

£5 for Leao was really silly and as a talented but FI awkward striker, I’d probably put him at around £3 to 3.50 as a more sensible value on the basis that he may make it to a bigger club. 

Leao is probably best for an In Play Dividend punt during a kind run of fixtures. 

Hot Gossip

Manchester United... Again

Yesterday I discussed Manchester United’s extensive rumoured summer shopping list. 

Today, they are in the news again with talk of a massive takeover by Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman. Apparently, he has ambitions to take on Manchester City and he has the financial muscle to make United’s shopping list a reality.

True or not, it’s worth keeping an eye on. I don’t think United are going to be short of cash and they are going to need to invest big or risk their status fading. 

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