Everton announced their fourth signing of the summer so far on Friday, with defensive midfielder Jean-Philippe Gbamin joining the Toffees from Mainz 05 for about £25 million.
Gbamin, 23, joins on a five-year deal, and is seen as the direct replacement for Idrissa Gueye, whose three-year spell at Goodison Park ended as he completed a £30 million move to Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.
The Ivorian also has 11 caps for country, including representing them at this summer’s African Cup of Nations.
RBM: Firstly, Idrissa Gueye’s departure left a massive hole in Everton’s midfield. Is Gbamin ready to take on that role straight away?
He has similar attributes to Gueye but being 23, he also has a lot of room for improvement. He’s extremely energetic and he’s strong on the ball, driving through the midfield, but also his defensive side of the game is arguably his best.
RBM: While Gueye was clearly an exceptional tackler, his lack of passing range sometimes drew criticism from Evertonians. How do you think Gbamin compares in that regard?
Daniel: Comparing the pass success rate, Gueye has the better completion, but I don’t think this stat alone does justice. Mainz focus on direct counter-attacking football and so Gbamin was often in the situation where he had to play a more direct passing range.
I think in this Everton squad, he’d play a role a little different to that of his one in Germany, instead winning the ball back and playing it short. At Mainz, he was their best midfielder and had to do the majority of the work.
RBM: Is there a current Premier League player who you would particularly Gbamin’s playing style to?
Daniel: Perhaps Moussa Sissoko on his day, but more defensively-minded.
Gbamin is great at winning the ball and driving forward into the attacking third, but I feel as though the Ivorian is better in defensive situations than Sissoko, especially positionally.
RBM: What areas of Gbamin’s game do you think need improving the most?
Daniel: He’s defensively sound and I think the fact that he’s played in a back three for Mainz but also in midfield shows his versatility, but if there’s an area for improvement, it’s his decision making.
Not in terms of being in the right place and reading the game without the ball, more so when he drives forward and then perhaps not picking the right option – but again, I have no doubt that at Everton this is something that Marco Silva can rectify.
RBM: Costing a reported fee of £25 million, do you think Gbamin represents good value for money for Everton?
Daniel: Without a doubt. Over the winter transfer window Mainz bosses had hoped to get around €60 million for Gbamin and Abdou Diallo – the latter joining Borussia Dortmund last summer before joining Paris Saint-Germain last month.
Gbamin arrived at Mainz for €5 million and was extremely raw, but in just three years, his progression has been nothing short of exceptional. His physicality already suits the Premier League and depending on how things go, he can easily be on par with a prime Yaya Touré.
Our thanks to Daniel for his time.