The ‘valuations’ come from transfermarkt.co.uk and should be viewed with the usual caution when it comes to algorithms, but it’s still a pretty good guide to the valuable players who did not make their team’s starting XI last weekend…
10) Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea, £21.25m)
If you had told Batshuayi that he would score three goals in his first seven games for his new club, he would have probably been quietly chuffed. He probably would have become less chuffed if you had added that he would play less than an hour of Premier League football, be left on the bench as Chelsea chased the game against Liverpool and score two-thirds of his goals against Bristol Rovers.
It’s difficult to shake the feeling that Batshuayi was far from Conte’s first choice. And being second-choice striker at Chelsea is no life at all; just ask Loic Remy.
9) Memphis Depay (Manchester United, £21.25m)
To be taken off after 55 minutes of a League Cup tie with Northampton because you are struggling to make an impact is pretty damning. The Dutchman would have known right then that he would be in the stands on Saturday for the Leicester game, alongside other Louis van Gaal signings discarded by the new man determined to shove his new broom where it really hurts.
The niggle with United fans is that Depay could be one of those players who goes on to make the club look foolish when he becomes a world-beater elsewhere. And Jose Mourinho has form (see: Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku) for that kind of oversight.
8) Olivier Giroud (Arsenal, £21.25m)
Okay, he arrived back late from Euro 2016. Okay, he suffered a toe injury that kept him out of one game. But 51 minutes of Premier League football in the first six matches of the season after a summer when Arsenal did not go out and buy a replacement striker? That is astonishing.
Some expected Giroud to be recalled to face Chelsea on Saturday evening but on this occasion at least, Arsene knew. He had watched Liverpool destroy Chelsea with swift movement and an interchanging front line and knew the relatively static stylings of the Frenchman would play right into the hands and leaden feet of Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic. So Giroud still waits…
7) Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool, £21.25m)
As Liverpool put together attack after attack that – according to Curtis Davies – makes it difficult for defenders to breathe, there is one man on the bench wondering if he will ever truly thrive under this manager. Sometimes great managers do not gel with great players and this may well be the case at Liverpool with Jurgen Klopp and Daniel Sturridge. There is a part for the England man to play in this thrilling Reds side, but it is not the starring role.
He started against Chelsea in the absence of Roberto Firmino but after 57 minutes was withdrawn with Klopp claiming he could no longer run; the following week he was back on the bench as Firmino, Sadio Mane, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana swarmed and harried and ran, ran, ran.
Whoever thought a fit Sturridge would play fewer Premier League minutes than Ragnar Klavan?
6) Erik Lamela (Tottenham, £22.1m)
That Tottenham even have a player on this list is testament to how far they have come under Mauricio Pochettino. To have a footballer of Lamela’s value in reserve is a luxury usually only enjoyed by the elite; so Tottenham really must have arrived. Also very much ‘arriving’ in recent weeks is Son Heung-min, whose performances – coupled with the arrival of Moussa Sissoko – have pushed Lamela onto the bench.
Even a hat-trick of assists (and a goal) against Gillingham in midweek did not convince Pochettino, who gave the Argentine just 20 minutes against Boro when his hand was forced by Sissoko’s injury.
5) Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United, £23.8m)
Five minutes of Premier League football. Five. Louis van Gaal’s £24m signing was allowed to play against Northampton and he was allowed to play against Feyenoord but the Frenchman is now behind Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini, Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick for a central midfield berth.
Schneiderlin was last seen in the stands, staring at his phone at the impressive results of Tottenham, whose deadline-day move was apparently rebuffed by Manchester United. According to the Daily Mail, ‘Spurs’ enquiry was rejected as Mourinho needs squad cover for the two domestic cups and Europa League’.
Ouch. Now that’s how to make a man feel special.
4) Leroy Sane (Manchester City, £25.5m)
He actually cost a fair bit more than his supposed ‘worth’ but at 20, City are paying for potential rather than what the German offers right now. He has so far played only 49 minutes of Premier League football (and 90 minutes in the League Cup, which he obviously dreamed of winning as a kid growing up in Essen) and is yet to wow City fans now being thoroughly spoiled by Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Kelechi Iheanacho.
Leroy Sane gonna go into irrelevance once Gabriel Jesus comes in Jan. He's gonna be in a similar situation to Lingard
— Sagna Boy (@SagnaBoy) September 24, 2016
Have there ever been harsher words spoken?
3) Granit Xhaka (Arsenal, £29.75m)
Unlike some of the other names on this list, Xhaka is clearly very wanted by his club; after all, they have just bought him. And unlike most of the other names, we know damn well that the Swiss midfielder will feature for Arsenal in the coming weeks as Francis Coquelin has succumbed to injury.
But even for Arsene Wenger, he has been uber-cautious with Xhaka, who became one of the world’s most expensive central midfielders and was then promptly parked on the bench. Even two goals in a week against Hull and Nottingham Forest did not sway his manager, who shrugged and muttered something about partnerships.
2) Oscar (Chelsea, £29.75m)
The fall guy after the schooling by Liverpool, though most Chelsea fans would have rather seen Nemanja Matic make way for Cesc Fabregas than Oscar, who had – against all odds – been out-tackling N’Golo Kante this season. While Matic has been caught between being a destroyer and a creative force and falling short at both tasks, Oscar was at least ‘busy’. And the very least you can expect from a player in a struggling side is to look ‘busy’.
Fabregas creativity > Oscar industry and pressing is Conte's choice. Hope it works
(I'd prefer to see both play).
— Chelsea Stats (@ChelseaStats) September 24, 2016
It’s fair to say that it didn’t work.
1) Wayne Rooney (Manchester United, £29.75m)
If you are currently wondering aloud – using some choice words beloved of our protagonist – who on earth would pay the best part of £30m for a 30-year-old Wayne Rooney, just think China. Just think about England’s record goalscorer, Manchester United’s captain, England’s captain, almost 200 Premier League goals.
Think about the cache, think about the shirt sales, think about the TV subscriptions. If somebody in China will pay £47m for Hulk, there would be no hesitation whatsoever about paying £30m for a man who is still one of the most recognisable, marketable footballers in world football.
There would be very few people in Shanghai saying: “Ah yes, but he slows down play and drops too deep in search of the ball.” They would be too busy saying: “It’s Rooney. It’s f***ing Rooney. Actually f***ing Rooney.”