WHO had an Emerson Royal (£4m) renaissance on their 2023 bingo card?
The 24-year-old has often been a figure of ridicule since his move to Tottenham, making himself an easy target for internet trolls by revealing that he has spent almost £1million of his own money on additional good and services in an attempt to improve his game.
While the Brazilian wing-back seems a wholehearted enough player, a montage of his worst performances in the last year would make for comedic viewing, unless you're among the Tottenham Hotspur faithful, in which case it would scarier than The Blair Witch Project.
When the club announced the signing of Pedro Porro (£2.3m) in January, it seemed as if Royal's playing time would be dramatically cut.
However, he has responded to the challenge admirably, particularly in the realm of Dream Team where he has banked 30 points in his last two appearances.
Royal opened the scoring against West Ham in Game Week 23, combining with opposite wing-back Ben Davies (£3.5m) for a goal typical of an Antonio Conte team, and ultimately contributed to a clean sheet as well to top the match ratings and register an 18-point haul.
A second successive 2-0 win for Spurs in a London derby, this time against Chelsea on Sunday, meant another clean sheet for Royal and, despite his yellow card, he edged out Oliver Skipp (£1m) and Harry Kane (£8m) to claim the Star Man award once again to add 12 points to his overall tally.
No other defender has produced as many points in the same time frame.
Admittedly, that's a small sample size but a broader view is also flattering; Royal has earned 65 points since the start of Game Week 16 at an average of 5.9 points-per-outing.
This unexpected surge has propelled Spurs' No12 up to 13th in the rankings among assets in his position.
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Incredibly, he now boasts a better total than Manchester City's best-performing defender this season, Nathan Ake (£3.9m).
Royal also has more points than Virgil van Dijk (£4.7m) and William Saliba (£2.7m), both among the most-popular players in the game, which is notable because his ownership currently sits at just 0.8%.
A quick glance at the schedule suggests his purple patch may last a few more weeks yet.
Spurs play Sheffield United in the FA Cup this Wednesday before taking on Wolves, Milan, Nottingham Forest and Southampton.
The vast majority of Dream Team gaffers would have discarded Royal as a possibility a long time ago but the numbers don't lie.
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