Everton’s summer rebuild will continue with the “low risk” permanent re-signing of Idrissa Gueye, who is set to be confirmed in time for the Premier League season opener against Chelsea.
Yo understands talks are “progressing” between Gueye and Everton after an agreement was struck with Paris Saint Germain for the player to join on a short-term deal.
It’s a deal that – on the face of it – veers away from the club’s strategy of signing young, hungry players with a point to prove. But as Everton CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale pointed out over the weekend, there has to be a streak of pragmatism that runs through the club’s dealings this close season.
He ticks the box of arriving with Premier League experience, a knowledge of the club, a good injury record and also strengthens the team in a position they have been lacking for the last 12 months.
And Gueye, like the signing of Burnley’s James Tarkowski earlier in the transfer window, represents a desire to toughen up a Toffees team that was far too easily bypassed by opponents last season.
While he is at the other end of his career from fellow new signing Dwight McNeil, Gueye retains the energy and ability to act as an effective midfield spoiler – something Everton sorely missed last year. Experiments deploying Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan in that role met with varying degrees of success last season, but having a specialist in that position will give Everton a different dimension.
The club believe it is a “low risk” deal that comes with plenty of upside. Gueye fell down the pecking order in Paris last season, and faced criticism when he refused to wear a special rainbow-themed shirt to mark solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, missing a match in the process.
After previous close seasons that saw heavy investment but left the team unbalanced, this summer’s work has been an attempt to be more strategic. It has also had to be completed with an eye on the club’s bottom line – Everton are working with the Premier League to ensure they stay within financial fair play regulations.
Despite that the club are still in the market for reinforcements and want a striker to supplement Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who will likely shoulder most of the scoring burden next season.
But Yo understands there is no interest in pursuing Ross Barkley, who was heavily linked last week, and they are not interested in Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi, another player who has been mentioned as a potential target.
There is satisfaction at Everton at the signings of Ruben Vinagre and Dwight McNeil, who made a sparkling start to life at Goodison Park in their friendly defeat of Dynamo kyiv on Friday.
McNeil was signed within the club’s financial parameters but with the agreement of both Frank Lampard and director of football Kevin Thelwell, who are working well together.
“Our Director of Football Kevin Thelwell and manager Frank Lampard are working diligently with support from our Chairman to further strengthen the playing ranks of our men’s squad, operating within a clear financial structure and with appropriate pragmatism,” wrote Baxendale-Barrett in Friday’s program notes .
Ironically, McNeil he was one of the players coveted by previous boss Rafa Benitez – who clashed repeatedly with Director of Football Marcel Brands. A year on, it appears Everton are learning the lessons of having manager and Director of Football much more closely aligned.