Idrissa Gueye has made a swift return to the top flight after being relegated with Aston Villa last term, joining Ronald Koeman’s Goodison Park revolution on a four-year deal.
He arrives to protect a Toffees defence that was among the worst in the division last season; only the bottom five – Bournemouth, Sunderland, Newcastle, Norwich and Villa – conceded more goals.
Gueye will also lighten the load on a 35-year-old Gareth Barry, who was a regular in Roberto Martinez’s midfield last term.
In his 33 appearances, the former England man made 96 tackles and 53 interceptions, which were the highest tallies of any of the squad’s midfielders.
By contrast, Gueye made 144 tackles and 141 interceptions in 35 outings for Villa. Only Leicester-turned-Chelsea star N’Golo Kante bettered those numbers in the entire Premier League.
Villa’s own shoddiness at the back – they shipped 76 goals in total – could explain the Senegalese’s bloated stats considering he’d have more to do than most of his defensive-midfield counterparts. However, that argument has to be thrown out when the 26-year-old’s final three seasons with previous club Lille are examined.
Between 2012/13 and 2014/15, when Gueye was a regular for Les Dogues, he made 89, 93 and 88 interceptions respectively and 81, 133 and 100 tackles.
In that time the Ligue 1 outfit finished sixth, third and eighth, so Gueye’s Premier League performance was only marginally padded by signing for a struggling Villa outfit.
Given his effective career as defensive doorman, it’s easy to see why Koeman has turned to the Senegalese for improved midfield security.
If the starting spot at Goodison comes down to a direct competition between Barry and Gueye, there is only one winner.
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