Although I’m on the verge of sounding borderline hipster, this statement does not seem as unrealistic as it would have been when you first came across this seemingly unthinkable idea.
Idrissa ‘Gana’ Gueye , the Senegalese international signed by Everton football club in the summer from Aston Villa for what is rumoured to be around £7m. None of it, at first glance, screams exciting. But it really has been. At least for Everton fans.
In a window when the Premier League clubs as a whole spent over one billion on football players, obviously unprecedented, bringing in the likes of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic – arguably the two standout signings of the window when it comes to sheer standing and market value in world football and add to that the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Granit Xhaka so on and so forth – the Premier League looks to have outdone itself in the last few years and remarkably enough it feels like it’s just the beginning.
But there have been some smart deals along the way too – which could be characterised by either good scouting and negotiation in the market or in some cases, simply the timing being beneficial to the buying club. One signing in particular has caught the eye (my eye) in this window that has made such a telling difference to the side he’s joined that is Idrissa Gueye at Everton.
It’s another case of spotting the right kind of player to fit your style, the kind of signing a Ronald Koeman and other managers who are known to have a clear style of play would sanction and one that has all the makings to go on and become very influential in the long run.
By signing Gueye and Ashley Williams, Koeman has basically gone out and strengthened the area that was the weakest. The 26-year old has started all three games for Everton so far with the Blues winning twice following the opening day stalemate against Spurs.
He’s been at the thick of things in arguably all the three games, like one would expect of their holding midfielder – he was not only patrolling the area, he also heckled the opposition when he needed to, bringing back the ‘dogs of war’ mentality that the Everton fans take to so well, something Martinez has never been in his time at Merseyside.
The most interesting thing about the player is how quickly he adapted to a new team in a new environment although technically he’s not from a different league. And the effect he’s had on Everton right from the first weekend, for a defensive midfielder, was incredibly positive.
Against Tottenham Hotspur, the only side that ran Leicester City close for the league title, Gueye’s debut performance was nothing short of phenomenal. He made 6 tackles, twice as many as any Spurs player on the pitch, won two aerials duels and shored up what looked like an unsettled and unsure back three on paper with midfielder McCarthy playing as right wing back. He was all over the pitch that day (his heat map was flaming hot) and his performances have not dropped since.
Signings can be ranked in various different ways and one could not have arguments about that. There’s so much a footballer can bring to a new club that does not necessarily meet the eye. Premier League has become a soap opera and in a window where the world’s best managers and players have sought the move to England (despite warnings about the weather) and promise to keep us all entertained for the next twelve months, it’s players like Idrissa Gueye that keep the old school-ness of the league alive and we should be thankful for that.