Intense speculation is growing regarding the future of Everton’s midfield tackling machine, Idrissa Gana Gueye.
The Senegalese midfielder has forged a reputation as the supreme holding midfielder in the Premier League in recent years, charging around Goodison Park with seemingly endless reserves of energy to cover an often fragile Everton defence.
But it isn’t just blind running from the 29-year-old. No player has completed more tackles (83) in the Premier League this season than Gueye, with the former Villa man coming second only to Leicester’s Wilfried Ndidi in that particular regard last season.
However, with PSG reportedly coming back in with another bid following the rejection of their £21.5m offer, and Gueye himself reportedly trying to push through a ‘dream move’, his time on Merseyside may be up, leaving a massive hole for Marco Silva to fill.
So, who are the potential winners and losers if Gueye does join the French champions? Here at Squawka, we’ve taken a look.
Winner: Tom Davies
After making such a promising start to life with his boyhood club, Everton fans have been desperate to see Tom Davies become a success.
To date, that hasn’t been the case, with the blonde-haired scouser often sloppy in possession and losing the swagger that initially endeared him to the Goodison Park faithful.
Davies, however, is still only 20 years old and remains fully committed to the Everton cause. On Tuesday, in Gueye’s absence, the England U21 international started against Huddersfield, having featured in just 10 minutes of Premier League football since Everton’s 6-2 drubbing against Tottenham over a month ago, and put in a masterclass of a performance with a passing accuracy of 88%.
More intriguing, though, was Davies’ role without possession, making four interceptions, three recoveries and leading his side’s press when Huddersfield had the ball. Granted, it was a performance against the Premier League’s whipping boys, but Davies’ performance in Yorkshire showed he can fill the ‘Gueye role’ when required with a mature and dynamic display.
Loser: Abdoulaye Doucoure
For months, it seemed Everton and Liverpool would go head-to-head in an attempt to sign Watford midfielder, Abdoulaye Doucoure, who has become pivotal to Javi Gracia’s side.
In recent weeks, though, the Frenchman has insisted he will only be leaving Watford for Champions League football, ruling out Everton.
Doucoure has also spoken of how flattered he has been by PSG’s reported interest, going as far to say that the Parisians are the club ‘closest to his heart’.
Any dreams of a move to his fancied club, then, would surely be dashed if the French champions were to complete the signing of Gueye, with both players fulfilling similar tactical roles at their respective clubs right now.
Paris is big, but it isn’t big enough for the both of them.
With Adrien Rabiot being frozen out of the PSG first team, Thomas Tuchel has had a big hole to fill in his midfield.
To solve this issue, the German tactician has looked to two of his most adept ball-playing defenders: Dani Alves and Marquinhos.
While the 35-year-old Alves would probably struggle to dislodge Thomas Meunier in the right-back position at the Parc des Princes, Marquinhos would be a shoo-in to step back into his favoured centre-back role and resume dominating the ball from deep in all aspects, should PSG succeed in prising Gueye away from Everton.
Loser: Andre Gomes
Andre Gomes joined Everton on loan from Barcelona at the tail end of a long recovery process from a muscle injury, causing him to miss 23 games.
Despite this, Gomes was thrown right into the deep end when fit and was initially superb, strutting his stuff in the Everton engine room like a prized racehorse, directing the ball with genuine class.
Now, however, he is paying for that lack of pre-season and is running more like a Shetland Pony than an Epsom Derby winner.
The departure of Gueye at this point in the season would eliminate any hope of a hard-earned rest for Gomes and have him working even harder during matches without his clean-up man next to him, shouldering the defensive burden.
Winner: Thomas Tuchel
With all the angst surrounding Adrien Rabiot’s contract breakdown, Tuchel will just want to bring in players that are excited to play for PSG, even without his need to use Alves and Marquinhos-shaped plasters to cover his midfield gaps.
Predictably, the Parisians have continued to juggernaut everything French football can throw at them but with Manchester United looming large in the Champions League, Tuchel will need more midfield quality, as well as having the luxury of playing defenders in, well, defence.
The capture of Gueye serves all of these purposes and equips Tuchel with, arguably, one of the only midfielders in Europe right now that can keep pace with a prime Paul Pogba for that upcoming Champions League tie.
Loser: Marco Silva
A win against Huddersfield may have calmed a few exasperated Everton fans, but their embarrassing FA Cup exit against Millwall has not been forgiven, nor has the fact that the Toffees have slipped 12 points behind the Premier League top six that they were supposed to gatecrash this season.
Since their unfortunate Merseyside derby defeat at the start of December, Everton have taken just 11 points from 10 Premier League games and have looked nothing short of terrible.
The last thing Marco Silva needs right now is for one of his most trusted and reliable players to jump ship, leaving him desperately short of a midfield destroyer – even more so when you realise Everton’s next six home games come against Wolves, Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Man Utd.
Everton fans will back their team to the hilt, but they’re certainly not afraid to let their manager know what they think – the sale of Gueye would leave Silva with little breathing-space when it comes to getting results.