Propose the idea that Everton would be willing to sell Idrissa Gana Gueye to Paris Saint Germain this month and you will be met with derision.
When ranking Everton’s best players in recent years the Senegal player is a regular at the top. He remains one of few success stories from the short reign of former Director of Football Steve Walsh.
Even last season, when the Blues were one of the worst sides in the Premier League, Gueye came out with his head held high. That is a status few of his teammates can claim. This season under Marco Silva he has flourished once again. The Portuguese manager’s progressive, forward-thinking system has afforded Gueye a key role.While Andre Gomes is tasked with being the key creator Gueye protects the defence and keeps things ticking over. It is something he has done excellently. One only need to look at how Everton crumbled without him against Tottenham Hotspur in December as proof of his importance.
Of players to play more than ten Premier League games, only Leicester City’s Ricardo Pereira averages more tackles per game. Gueye is top of the charts when it comes to midfielders. He’s also in the top five for interceptions and top three among midfielders.
Across Europe, it is again only Pereira who is averaging more tackles per game. He’s top of the charts for midfielders in that regard. Only three midfielders in Europe average more interceptions per game. These numbers point to a man who has one job and does it superbly. It is easy to see why some regard him as a low-cost N’Golo Kante. It is also easy to see why PSG have identified him as a defensive midfield target and why Everton would be foolish to sell.
So far the noise from Goodison Park has been that they won’t. Not, at least, until Paris Saint Germain get closer to their asking price. If reports are to be believed that is £40m. The Parisians, limited by FFP, won’t got higher than £30m. If they do, though, it is likely Everton will be willing to trade.
While neither they, their manager nor fans would be keen to lose a key player midway through the campaign the fact is it would make prudent financial sense for the club.
The previous regime loaded the club with players of the wrong age on wages that did not make sense. Gueye is worthy of his but he is not at the right age. 29 is not old by any means but he is at the wrong end of the scale, particularly for a man like Marcel Brands. He wants young, upwardly mobile players who can be developed. He wants to load the Everton squad with players for the next ten years. Gueye is one for the next three, max. He is currently at the peak of his powers and unlikely to get better.
He is also a player that doesn’t quite fit into the style they want to play. While he is excellent defensively, he leaves a lot to be desired going forward. His passing is simply not good enough. Silva needs a player who is good at both. His system demands players who are comfortable on the ball and can break through the lines with their passing. Players like Andre Gomes, for example. Gueye isn’t up to that standard.
Nor is he likely to command a fee like this at any point in future. The suggestion has been Everton should wait until the summer but that would not work. The PSG interest would not be there, for a start. They want Gueye now because he is free to play in Europe. That won’t be a restriction come the summer. Their need has created a situation that Everton can exploit.
While they are no longer a club desperate for finance, they are also not rich enough to turn down a very competitive fee for the 29-year-old midfielder.
It is undeniable that in the short-term, selling Gueye would be a bad idea. He’s a key player enjoying an impressive campaign. The second half of the season would likely prove to be a tough one without him.
The fact is, though, this is an Everton regime that now prioritises the long-term over the short. In that regard, selling Gueye now makes plenty of sense. It represents a short-term loss for a long-term gain. Whether they’re willing to risk it, remains to be seen.
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