Dream Team has changed in recent seasons.
Where before defenders were almost an afterthought, now a case could be made that they are the most important players in the game.
One of the reasons for this balance shift is the emergence of technically impressive full-backs capable of dictating games on a weekly basis.
Leading the revolution is Trent Alexander-Arnold (£6.5m).
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Liverpool’s homegrown hero has provided 62 assists in 222 games for the Reds at a rate of one every 3.6 appearances – or one every 297.4 minutes to be more precise.
His impressive stats look even better when you discount his first two seasons, when he was learning on the job at right-back as a fresh-faced teenager having predominantly played as a central midfielder for the youth team.
Since 2018/19, he’s registered 59 assists at a rate of one every 260.1 minutes in all competitions.
Alexander-Arnold’s prolific playmaking puts plenty of world-class midfielders to shame.
Bruno Fernandes (£5.5m) and Kevin De Bruyne (£7m) are the only Premier League midfielders in recent years who have been able to hang with Liverpool’s No66 in terms of chance creation, expected assists per 90 minutes, and other such metrics useful for measuring playmakers.
Last season was Alexander-Arnold’s best yet as he finished with 19 assists to his name, 12 of which came in the league.
Combine these elite numbers with the fact he’s classified as a defender, and therefore eligible for clean sheet points, and it’s no wonder he has reached the status of a demigod in the realm of Dream Team.
In 2021/22, the 23-year-old racked up 298 points when all was said and done – only Mohamed Salah (£7.5m) banked more among all assets.
This is why Alexander-Arnold has been slapped with a starting price of £6.5m ahead of the new term.
Such a figure is rare among defenders ahead of Game Week 1 but, as we’ve already covered, he’s no ordinary defender.
The similarly influential Joao Cancelo (£6.5m) starts as the joint-most expensive player in his position having amassed 275 points last season.
In years gone by, identifying value-for-money options at the back to afford premium strikers was arguably the optimum strategy but in the modern age it feels as if at least one top-of-the-range defenders is a necessity from the get-go.
Alexander-Arnold’s steep price hasn’t deterred the Dream Team bosses who have already signed up ahead of the 2022/23 campaign – he currently features in 32.5% of teams and is the most-selected asset in his position.
The question is not can you afford him, it’s can you afford not to have him?
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