Welcome to Part Four of the Value Hunting series.

In Part One I discuss the thinking behind this series, here I’m just going to get straight into the players.

Core Performance Pt 1

These are “core” players that I’d expect to form the basis of any decent Key Strategy portfolio.

I generally suggest having 40-60% of our portfolio value in “core players” (although what makes up a core player changes with the trends ahead and players improve and decline in performance ability over time).

Without enough core players we are likely ignoring the major trends and factors of the season ahead and will struggle. And your portfolio can be brittle without a strong base of good performers.

But too many of them can also make our portfolio a bit too safe. This can be fine for a passive trader, but I prefer to have the remaining 40-60% of my portfolio in well targeted risks like promising youth and good transfer choices.

But core players are a solid foundation that should not be ignored.

In a core player, I am currently looking for:

  • High performance strength, at least 3.5 out of 5 stars in my rankings.


  • Ability to challenge for performance scores in their normal domestic matches in normal times


  • CL or Europa next season, a bonus if they are still in this season’s competition.


  • Ideally involved in Euro 2021


  • Price can be a bit higher because we are buying quality, but we will still be looking for the best available value.


These are strong performance players who should benefit heavily in the event of a season restart in May/June, and will come back on trend for next season regardless.

This will tend to be a more expensive end of the market, but a £2-10 player can still be good value if they have the quality to back it up, especially as they can be highly desirable not just for the coming weeks but potentially all the way up to Euro 2021.


Eden Hazard


Real Madrid

Hazard’s woeful opening season at Real has kept his price extremely low for a player of his ability and profile.

With the market this down on him, it looks a good time to pick him up in the hope of a better second season. It can’t be much worse!

That said though, when he did play, he showed some very nice performance numbers and was winning over the fans. He was very unfortunate to pick up injuries just when getting into his stride.

Just £3.56 now, an incredible £5.32 a year ago in April 2019 and back then that was a much bigger price relatively speaking too.

An enormous discount on a high quality player who could fly in value with just one performance win which he is capable of. And he will be a feature in the CL and the star man for Belgium at Euro 2021.

Looks a strong bet for when football returns in May or June. If football doesn’t come back, I’d expect people to be starting to prepare portfolios for next season as early as June anyway. 


Toni Kroos


Real Madrid

I almost included him in the veterans but decided he’s too good for that.

He was the hottest ticket in town just in November, but suffered as people got extremely pessimistic on age. 

I had expected his big scores to continue, his numbers were still good throughout 2020. He was a bit unfortunate not to turn it into dividend wins at times. And being unexpectedly dropped from the CL line up was a blow too.

But he’s still the same player people were happy to pay £5 for not long ago and if we get a reconstructed season or even if we have to wait until next season, traders will get less twitchy on age when there is a long fixture calendar ahead of them.

Some vague rumours of a Man Utd, PSG or Bayern move… I don’t believe them. I’d be fine him staying where he is but all those moves are attractive too.

At £3.25 now Kroos is a steal.


Serge Gnabry


Bayern Munich

A clear core player all of the current season, and with Bayern playing like they are and Euro 2021 now pencilled in that is very unlikely to change.

The recent shift to forward is also extremely helpful.

In early March he was one of the tricky ones when thinking of trims before the spreads lockdown. He’s great but was getting pricey at £4.28 and many were holding him because of Bayern’s CL run and Euro 2020. That meant he was at risk of a drop.

With the spreads locked down now we don’t have to fear drops as much as we did in early March. Gnabry did go onto drop but has picked up some fortune with the move to forward and is back near his high.

Good players tend to be lucky players.

A solid core player that offers good value even though he’s at the pricier end, he’s ticking a lot of boxes for the next 12 months which makes this price justified as a longer term hold.


Ruben Loftus-Cheek



In pre-season scouting I was discussing RLC as a key “full season fit” core player for Key Strategy. It’s a shame he was injured so badly because he could have ticked every box for us.

He’s got strong performance suitability that we haven’t seen on the scoreboard yet. But perhaps in competition with Barkley, he’d be up there with Chelsea’s best. Much better than the Mount’s/Abraham’s that were extremely overhyped. RLC could be the real deal.

His England involvement was a big potential bonus. He was unlikely to make Euro 2020 having spent the whole season sidelined. But he may now have a second bite at the cherry with the tournament being moved.

His injury has kept him relatively under wraps, and he’s dropped sharply recently as the injury buyers were disappointed he couldn’t make a return with no matches on.

Looks a great pick up after this drop and I think he will be in demand next season. And possibly sooner for a comeback if this season is rebooted.


Thiago Alcantara


Bayern Munich

Another top performance player currently available for a decent discount. He’s dropped from £2.81 to £2.44 recently. 

Still just 28 he has years ahead and was becoming more of a fixture at Bayern with great displays recently.

He’s done ok to return 16p in dividends this season but that is a fraction of what he is capable of over a full season.

Contract expires in 2021 but discussions are ongoing about a new one. Sometimes get rumours of a move to Real but these rumours are dying out as he settles more at Bayern. That’s just fine.

Still in the mix for Spain too. 

Good value for a very strong player who is very likely to see buying when we get a football calendar back, whether that is this season or next.


Christian Eriksen



Traders dislike moves out of the EPL, certainly beyond the initial gossip.

Eriksen has dropped from £2.76 in January to £2.21 now.

But there is no rational reason for that price drop. Eriksen was not a huge media draw anyway, so being out of the EPL is not a big deal.

In fact, he looks to have improved as a performance player at Inter. Whilst that hasn’t come through in big scores so far, that is largely due to limited minutes. 

Once he does get up to Conte’s fitness standards and plays the full 90, I think we’ll see some big scores from him.

He also shows excellent numbers for Denmark as their key man and everything goes through him, so he will be one of the better smaller team players to be holding later on.

Good value after this drop and if we see those big scores coming through he could get attention fairly easily.


Riyad Mahrez


Manchester City

We’ve always known he has great performance ability on the site. He’s shown that to most people by now. It’s a shame we haven’t seen him in the CL Gold Day’s in particular yet.

Only really rotation holds him back, but the same is true for many City players. But he doesn’t need to play every game to be worth his money – he just needs to put up enough big scores over the season and he is well capable of that.

He has some interesting links to PSG, which would be great if so for short term media. And I’d have no doubt he’d tear it up in Ligue 1 if playing every week.

More likely, he stays put which is absolutely fine.

Having taken a severe dive from £2.58 in January to just £2.13 now he’d be one of the first names on my list if we thought football was back on the agenda anytime soon.


Julian Brandt


Borussia Dortmund

Brandt has taken a severe hit dropping from £3.01 in early February to just £2.52 in less than a month. That’s a sizable discount on a high quality player.

He was showing good numbers in recent scouting but started falling before coronavirus due to an unfortunate injury.

His numbers were good though and he has really started settling at Dortmund. There is a reason people were buying him up to £3+.

Great trend profile at just 23 and his next season CL involvement and Germany minutes are strong factors too.

Looking a bargain at £2.52 and I’d expect him to be back over £3 when football returns either May/June or in preparation for next season.

Also Consider

These 4 I have covered in other articles so I won’t repeat analysis here, but worth noting that I think they fit Core Performance players too.


Fabian Ruiz



Robert Lewandowski

Bayern Munich

Houssem Aouar


Antoine Griezmann


I’m not done! At least 8 more coming Thursday.

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