While Everton fans have known all along that Paris St. Germain’s pursuit of Idrissa Gueye was only going to end one way, with the player’s exit, it appears that time has come and we’re not ready for it.
Well, the fans might not be ready for it, but Director of Football Marcel Brands definitely is and appears to have already identified the heir to the big boots Gana filled in the Toffees’ midfield.
Soon after reports that PSG and Everton had come to an agreement over a transfer fee for Gueye, Fussball Transfers (via SportWitness) broke the news that the Blues were targeting FSV Mainz defensive midfielder Jean-Philippe Gbamin to replace him.
Gbamin is a very versatile 23-year-old who can line up anywhere along the backline or in central midfield. The bulk of his experience has come in the central defensive midfielder role, where Mainz have used him since signing him three summers ago from RC Lens in France, but he is also an accomplished central defender. He is also an Ivory Coast international, having made nine appearances for the national side, most recently in the Africa Cup of Nations this summer.
The player has been loosely linked with Arsenal, Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers, but there has been no concrete interest or confirmed bids reported as yet.
He has scored thrice and picked up four assists in 95 games for Mainz, but is renowned for his defensive work much like Gueye, where he has marshaled the area in front of the backline. There are only a handful of players who are even in the ballpark of the tackle totals that Gueye has, but Gbamin is not one of them.
However, his statistics in those areas are not in the highest echelon, even though those who have watched Gbamin play say he’s very similar to Gana. It has to be remembered that Mainz are a very average side in the Bundesliga, and have finished 15th, 14th and 12th in the last three seasons he’s been there.
The midfielder does have a penchant for shooting from distance, despite his success rate being pretty low. His short passing accuracy is 83.7%, and overall is 80.4%, with 0.8 key passes per 90 minutes played.
This Bundesliga scouting report from a couple of seasons ago was very impressed with him -
The rangy Ivory Coast-born youngster used the evident athletic prowess packed into his 1.86-metre frame to become one of the Bundesliga’s most effective defensive midfielders, his energy and aggression a shining leitmotif running through what was an otherwise unremarkable season for Mainz.
Yet for all his aggression he is remarkably well-disciplined, picking up on three bookings last season.
There are a number of France-based young defensive midfielders that have been touted as Gueye replacements - Ibrahim Sangare (Toulouse), who is ironically Gbamin’s international teammate and the pair have replaced each other in international action at the AFCON; Lucas Tousart at Olympique Lyonnais and Wolves target Boubakary Soumaré at Lille - so it’s interesting if Gbamin is the choice that Brands chose to go to Germany.
Speaking to French media outlet Le Parisien (via SportWitness), the player’s agent Bernard Collignon said -
“Jean-Philippe is seduced by the idea of joining Everton.
“To discover the championship of England in a club of top of table would represent for him a very beautiful opportunity and a very good stage.”
Interestingly enough, his agent claimed back in June that his client was best playing at centrehalf, another position of need at Everton right now.
“In January 2018 Klopp called Mainz and wanted to commit him as a center-back, who also helps out in midfield. But Mainz did not want to let him go in the middle of the relegation battle. In the summer, Liverpool signed on to Fabinho.
“I had meetings with Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal, Everton and many other clubs. He is in the shortlist. However, not as a top candidate, because his exact position is unclear.
“In my opinion he is a player worth 60 million euros. It’s time for him to play as a center-back. There he would be a top player in all four major leagues and would make a great career.”
The other matter will be a decision on his transfer fee. The player is signed through till 2023 after signing an extension last summer. The German side are said to be looking for between €25-30 million, knowing fully well that is about what the Blues will get for Gueye.
So now we wait for the first domino to fall before the transfer wheels are set in motion.