With the start of the new campaign approaching, it's time to start crafting your perfect side as fantasy football makes its comeback
Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola are not the only managers spending the summer months planning their assault on a championship.
Whether the prize is cash or mere bragging rights, millions of virtual bosses throughout the UK will be scouting players, trawling through statistics and assembling their squad ahead of the new fantasy football season.
Fantasy football has become hugely popular all over the world and if you're going to pip your friends to the latest mini-league title, you'll need to put in the work beforehand.
Luckily, Goal has put together this complete guide to the upcoming season for new and experienced players alike.
Fantasy football is a game that has been played for decades, originating from the fantasy golf and baseball equivalents that emerged in the United States in the 1950s.
The basic premise of most such games sees a group of participants each pick teams of players from a certain league and compete against each other, with points earned based on the real-life performances and statistics of those players.
Fantasy sports exploded in popularity with the development of the internet. Whereas previously the management of leagues had been a time-consuming exercise, requiring someone to monitor squads and keep score, online platforms automated much of the process and made communication between players much easier.
As of 2015, it was estimated that fantasy sports had become a $2 billion industry.
In the UK, millions create a fantasy football team every season. Those are usually centred around the Premier League, with each player assigned a value and 'managers' then given a set transfer budget with which to build a squad.
Those players are then awarded points each week based on their real-life performances in terms of goals, assists, clean sheets and other statistical categories.
We are currently running two different varieties of game: the English Premier League, which, as the name suggests, is based on the English top flight, and the Goal Super League, which features players from the top clubs across Europe.
A Champions League game will also be added later in the season.
New players and kits have already been added, with signings such as Bernardo Silva and Mohamed Salah available to include in your 2017-18 team and unlimited changes allowed until the first weekend of the season.
You can also invite your friends to play and start creating custom leagues as well as proposing head-to-head challenges.
There is also a popular version of fantasy football run on the Premier League's official website , with over four million players signed up.
To get started, you'll need to pick a squad. On the Premier League's fantasy football game you'll have £100 million to spend and need to select two goalkeepers, five defenders, five midfielders and three forwards.
To give you an idea of how you'll have to split up your funds, the most expensive players in each position are:
Goalkeepers: Five players (£5.5m)
Defenders: Marcos Alonso (£7m)
Midfielders: Alexis Sanchez (£12m)
Forwards: Harry Kane (£12.5m)
You will then have to choose a formation and pick a starting XI and your players will be awarded points based on their performances in real life. The Premier League hands out points as follows:
|For playing up to 60 minutes||1|
|For playing 60 minutes or more (excluding injury time)||2|
|For each goal scored by a goalkeeper or defender||6|
|For each goal scored by a midfielder||5|
|For each goal scored by a forward||4|
|For each goal assist||3|
|For a clean sheet by a goalkeeper or defender||4|
|For a clean sheet by a midfielder||1|
|For every 3 shot saves by a goalkeeper||1|
|For each penalty save||5|
|For each penalty miss||-2|
|Bonus points for the best players in a match||1-3|
|For every 2 goals conceded by a goalkeeper or defender||-1|
|For each yellow card||-1|
|For each red card||-3|
|For each own goal||-2|
To qualify for a clean sheet, players must be on the pitch for at least 60 minutes. Goals conceded after they have been substituted do not affect their clean sheet points.
Once you've selected a full squad and figured out your best lineup, you'll be able to designate one player as your captain. This player will score double points and can be changed every week.
You'll also be able to make transfers throughout the campaign, and as many as you want up until the first game of the season on August 11. After that, you will be given one free transfer per week and can make extra transfers at a cost of four points each.
Need some help building your team? The first thing to do is decide on a formation.
Though goals from defenders are extremely valuable, full-backs and centre-backs who chip in regularly are hard to find and usually expensive. For that reason, the 3-5-2 and Antonio Conte-esque 3-4-3 are popular setups as they allow you to pick more midfielders and forwards.
The top strikers also come at a price, of course, with the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane taking more than 10 per cent out of your entire transfer budget. If you're planning to play three up front, you'll need to identify at least one potential bargain to complement the proven stars.
Alternatively, you can hope a cheap defence holds together in order to splash out on goals and assists. Whatever your strategy is, we have a few suggestions to get you started.
Below are the five most expensive players in each position and a few recommendations in the search for a potential steal.
|David de Gea||Man Utd||£5.5m|
Unsurprisingly, the title contenders have the most expensive goalkeepers - with the exception of Liverpool, who do not have a definite No.1 at this stage.
Two slightly cheaper options are Tom Heaton and Jordan Pickford , both of whom will cost you £5m. Heaton was the highest scoring goalkeeper in the game last season, keeping 10 clean sheets for Burnley while facing plenty of shots, and Pickford could improve on the same tally of 10 recorded by Joel Robles at Everton in 2016-17.
|Five other players||Various||£6.5m|
It's unsurprising to see Marcos Alonso and Gary Cahill, both of whom netted a league-leading six goals from defence last season, near the top of the pile here.
You might be better off shopping elsewhere this time around, however. New Chelsea signing Antonio Rudiger (£6m) looks like a natural replacement for the ageing Cahill and the Blues have also been linked with Alex Sandro, who would push Alonso down the pecking order at wing-back.
Cesar Azpilicueta remains a solid choice defensively but if you're looking for some extra goals, consider Patrick van Aanholt . Only Alonso took more shots among defenders than the Crystal Palace left-back last season, and he ended up with five goals. He costs £5.5m.
Harry Maguire is also worth a look at £5m. He was outstanding for Hull City last term and should improve Leicester City's defence, and though he only scored two goals his total of 10 shots was only one fewer than Cahill attempted.
|Kevin De Bruyne||Man City||£10m|
Dele Alli netted 18 goals last season and could crack 20 in the coming campaign. Playing almost as a second striker as he does for Spurs, he had more points than every midfielder except Alexis Sanchez last season but does not command the same price tag at £9.5m.
You should also consider Michail Antonio . He only played in 29 games last season but his tally of nine goals was fourth-best in the Premier League among midfielders, and at £7.5m he could prove to be a steal if he can stay fit and get into double figures.
Aaron Ramsey had a 10-goal season in 2013-14 and may be good value at £7m if Arsenal's new 3-4-3 formation can get him back to his best, while Bournemouth's Junior Stanislas (£6m) quietly managed a seven-goal campaign despite playing just 21 games. He has improved his tally every year with the Cherries.
In terms of creative players, Kevin De Bruyne 's 18 assists are hard to argue with if you have the cash, especially as Manchester City's attack will be littered with talent this season.
|Sergio Aguero||Man City||£11.5m|
|Romelu Lukaku||Man Utd||£11.5m|
Up top, it's hard to argue with Harry Kane or Romelu Lukaku , who have proven that they guarantee goals year in, year out.
You'll probably want to wait and see what the future holds for Diego Costa, though, while Sergio Aguero may be best avoided to begin with to monitor how many minutes he is losing to Gabriel Jesus.
Alexandre Lacazette could join the 20-goal club and is currently available for a little less (£10.5m) than the cream of the crop, which might be worth the gamble.
At the cheaper end of the scale, your best strategy is probably to try to identify a breakout young player or new signing. Kelechi Iheanacho (£7m) is an interesting possibility - he has star potential and should get more games at Leicester than he did at Man City.
The last thing you want to do, of course, is spend hours crafting out the perfect team only to find a key player is injured for the first game of the season.
We've got you covered. Listed below are all the notable injuries you need to be aware of going into the new campaign.
|Player||Club||Week 1 status|
|Ilkay Gundogan||Man City||Out|
|Luke Shaw||Man Utd||Unknown|
|Ashley Young||Man Utd||Unknown|
|Marcos Rojo||Man Utd||Out|
|Stephen Ireland||Stoke City||Unknown|