Ever since the news broke that Everton were interested in adding Manchester City midfielder Fabian Delph to the squad, rumour has been rife that the England international was being brought in to replace long-time Paris St. Germain target Idrissa Gueye.
While Gana might still leave the Blues this summer, manager Marco Silva was pretty adamant speaking to the Liverpool Echo that Delph was not going to be used to step into Gueye’s huge shoes.
“I will answer direct to this question.
“They are two completely different players. Gana plays in one role, Fabian can do the role of Gana but he doesn’t come to our squad to replace Gana.
“Gana is still our player and, of course, if we lose Gana then we have to sign a player to replace him because you are talking about one player playing almost all of the games in our squad.
“If it will happen then we have to replace him, it is not because we have signed Fabian Delph.”
That will come as a relief to many Blues who were concerned about Delph’s limited playing time in the defensive pivot role in the last four years, with City mainly using him as a fullback in spot duty.
Silva went on to define exactly how he sees Delph fitting in, and with Everton’s struggles in the attacking half the 29-year-old brings another dimension that could help.
“For me he is a box-to-box player and Fabian performs better when he is a box-to-box player.
“Of course, he can play as one of the two midfielders with an offensive midfield player, the role we are giving to Gylfi and one that Bernard and Tom can also play there and even Andre because he did in Valencia, and so Fabian can play in that role in our 4-2-3-1 formation we played last season.
“He can also play as an offensive midfielder and can give us more opportunities than we had last season.
“When I said he can bring different solutions it is to play a 4-3-3 with two offensive midfielders, plus one more positional midfielder.
“But the position I can see him performing well is as a box-to-box midfielder player because he has this capacity to do that.”
Many fans were surprised by the decision to bring in the veteran when Marcel Brands had stated in the past that the Blues would be targeting younger players, but the manager clarified the team’s stance in this case.
“We took that decision before the end of the season.
“It was one player we decided would be a target and I can tell you that around March, April we started to talk about this possibility and how it would be important and a good solution for us.”
Meanwhile, in the face of a renewed bid from PSG, and possible interest from Manchester United, Everton will find it difficult to hold on to Gueye. The Portuguese manager knows that Gana has said that going to France would be a dream move for him, but will attempt to convince him to stay and see out the Everton project he has started.
“I have to talk with him and show him how he is an important player for us.
“To be honest, even if it was a fantastic opportunity for him, the behaviour of Gana after that period was very, very good and he lost a ‘dream’.
“He always gives 100% and his best. He said to me in that period that he had that dream but for us as a club it was really tough to take to lose a player like him.
“I think we took the right decision and after that Gana proved that with his best season at Everton, in my opinion.
“Let’s see what the market will say again about Idrissa and we are here to take the best decisions for us as a football club.”
Ultimately, if Gueye does decide to leave the Toffees, the club will not stand in his way. Silva’s comments about the player also show that the Blues have already identified who they want to replace him, and will act quickly and decisively if that day does come.