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FPL tips: Bruno Fernandes as Mohamed Salah replacement?

:Headline: FPL tips: Bruno Fernandes as Mohamed Salah replacement?:
Elite managers ditched the Liverpool winger after his coronavirus diagnosis. But who did they opt for in his place?
Sports Mole

News of Mohamed Salah's positive coronavirus test last week sent shockwaves through the FPL community.

Liverpool's most reliable asset had almost 3.5 million owners and for many of them he will have been the first name on the team sheet.

The game's elite managers were no exception. In our sample of 1,000 managers with multiple top-10,000 finishes to their names, a whopping 939 of them had the Egyptian in their squads.

But while riding out Gameweek 9 with a big-name player on the bench was an option, it wasn't one that appealed to the majority of top bosses, who were quick to sell their star man.

Salah dodgers

While Salah's ownership among all active managers in the game fell by around 41% last week, an astounding 73% of our elite bosses decided to axe him him from their squads.

Mohamed Salah was the most transferred-out player in Gameweek 9 (PA Graphic)

The only player who had been more popular than Salah among top managers in the previous gameweek was Son Heung-min, and he also saw his stock tumble.

With Tottenham's fixtures turning, around one in three of his elite owners pulled the trigger.

And while Son ended up with a 10-point haul against Manchester City, his ceiling will surely be lower in the coming weeks as Spurs visit Chelsea and Liverpool while balancing also balancing a return to Champions League action.

Son's team-mate Harry Kane appeared to be ditched by our top bosses for similar reasons, while the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold also made way.

Also noteworthy is the apparent loss of patience with Phil Foden. The young Englishman had been favoured as a budget route into the City team but now appears to be falling out of favour amid his side's indifferent run of form.

Bruno enters the ring

So we know who they got rid of, but who did our elite managers bring in instead?

While selling Salah – the most expensive player in the game – allows you to sign literally anyone else, there was a clear consensus among elite bosses. Of the 939 who moved Salah out, over half (558) replaced him with Bruno Fernandes.

With Manchester United at home to struggling West Brom, his immediate appeal was obvious.

Bruno Fernandes was the most transferred-in player in GW9. (PA graphic)

Bruno has been United's standout performer since his arrival and a relatively kind fixture list over the next few months seems to have sealed the deal.

Like Salah, Kevin De Bruyne was dropped like a hot potato after he missed Manchester City's win over Arsenal in Gameweek 5, but some of our top managers saw this week as an opportunity to return the Belgian to the fold.

City also have a favourable run of fixtures coming up and De Bruyne – owned by 877 of our 1,000 top managers before his injury – looks set to remain their preferred option from Pep Guardiola's squad.

Ownership of Hakim Ziyech  has grown substantially among our elite group – from just 2 in Gameweek 7 to 338 now. This is likely thanks to the absence of Christian Pulisic and Kai Havertz, plus the uncertainty brought about by rotation of Tammy Abraham and Timo Werner.

Meanwhile, Jack Grealish was the second-most transferred-in player among our top bosses subset. Though he suffered disappointment against Brighton last time out, the confidence is perhaps indicative of an attractive run of fixtures for the Villains in coming weeks.

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