One of the most important problems that Everton must resolve in this transfer window is whether they can or should directly replace Idrissa Gana Gueye.
Perhaps the biggest single reason why Everton had such a poor campaign in 2019-20 season, was the loss of Gana and the inability of the team to replace his role and contribution.
This is an issue we’ve discussed before on this site. Gueye’s departure for PSG last summer, left a big hole in the Blues midfield and effectively made manager Marco Silva’s formation and tactics redundant, almost immediately.
His replacement, Jean-Philippe Gbamin, was virtually straight away injured and spent the whole season in almost permanent rehabilitation from a bewildering series of injuries.
His loss meant that the Toffees simply couldn’t replace Gana’s energy, positioning, tacking and box-to-box work rate. None of the other midfielders could do the job that he did.
In addition, the departure of the Senegal player, seriously undermined the effectiveness of another key player in the Blues midfield who played alongside him in Silva’s 4-2-3-1; Andre Gomes.
The Portuguese playmaker has struggled ever since Gueye left, to have the kind of impact he had in the 2018-19 season.
Sorting out the Toffees midfield problems is priority number one in this transfer window. And trying to replace the Senegal player is a considerable part of that.
Again, as I’ve said before, Gbamin’s return from injury might solve this problem, at least to some extent. But after so many bad injuries will he be the same player Everton signed a year ago.
We’ve already looked at a lot of possible midfield options Everton might consider to replace or supplement Gbamin, if he is not able to recover from all his injuries properly or if he proves unable to effectively replicate Gueye’s contribution.
As has been pointed out previously, bringing a direct replacement would mean that Gbamin could drop back to play centre-back helping strengthen that position too.
It’s also unlikely because of the financial situation that the Blues will be able to bring in as many players as I assume Carlo Ancelotti would ideally want in this window.
Rumours constantly fly around about signing Allan without anything solid seeming to come of it, at least not yet anyway. I still can’t help thinking a deal for the Brazil player is unlikely.
Everton are also going to struggle to attract the very best talent out there, so the club need to consider whether finding a direct replacement for Gana might not make the most sense and give the team the best chance of an immediate improvement.
Finding a player like him for a relatively cheap fee would fit in with a slightly more realistic transfer strategy than pursuing players out of reach.
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It would also enable the Toffees to get the best out of Gomes, who has the potential to be a key performer for the team.
He also seems to be best suited to playing in a central two with a player like Gueye alongside him, whether that’s a 4-2-3-1 or Ancelotti’s favoured 4-4-2 formation.
So one individual who would be very similar to the Blues former midfield terrier, is the Marseille player Valentin Rongier.
The Frenchman is known as the ‘the little engine’ for obvious reasons, as he is a dynamic, energetic defensive midfielder.
He is though also a truly box-to-box player who is two-footed and can contribute in attack as well. In addition at 25 he’s the ideal age too.
Rongier looks an almost exact replacement for Gana so is worth considering if the management want a direct replacement. The only potential problem is that he has recently signed a contract at the French club, so it would probably take a significant bid to prise him away.