The wait for Ronald Koeman's first outfield signing was a protracted one as the Dutchman took the time to fully assess the squad he inherited from Roberto Martinez but it ended with the acquisition of Idrissa Gueye in a £7.1m deal from Aston Villa in early August 2016.
The midfielder became the second acquisition of the Koeman era following Maarten Stekelenburg's arrival after the club activated his release clause at newly relegated Villa which allowed him to leave for less than the Midlanders had paid for him the previous year.
Gueye was signed at the time from Lille by ex-Villa boss Tim Sherwood for £9m, one of a number of recruits from the French league that ultimately failed to gel into a team capable of avoiding relegation from the Premier League. The Senegal international was widely regarded as a bright spot in an otherwise poor side, however, and was seen as a big loss to Villa Park.
Koeman was reportedly in the running to acquire Gueye as Southampton boss before Sherwood stepped in but he got his man at the second attempt when he put pen to paper on a four-year deal at Villa Park.
“I am very happy to be here at Everton and I am very happy and excited to put on the Blue shirt to start the new season here," Gueye said after signing his contract. “Everton is a big team with big players and great fans. The manager told me he is very happy to have me here and that we will have time to talk about football after.
“Goodison Park is a very good stadium and the fans are very good, too. They push their team forward and I am excited to play there.”
Koeman, meanwhile, highlighted the attributes in Gueye that he feels will improve the Blues' midfield.
"Idrissa will provide quality in our squad in the midfield and we want to increase the quality in the team," the manager said. "He was one of the players last season with the best record in interceptions and pressing in the midfield. We need this kind of quality and I'm happy to have him joining our Club.”
Idrissa Gueye, wearing his middle name Gana on his Everton shirt, turned out to be quite the hidden gem in the early going as Ronald Koeman's side made a good start to the 2016-17 Premier League season with four wins and a draw putting them 2nd behind Manchester City, and the man getting the Man of the Match plaudits more than any other was Gana.
It came as no surprise to Rudi Garcia, who had seen the talent as his manager at Lille:
“Idrissa was very young when he was at Lille but he already had many qualities – and one of them was a very strong ambition. Even then he was a good, strong midfielder with a big capacity to run, a fantastic fighter and a very good man.
“The way to become a Premier League great is long and hard. But Idrissa is a hard worker so he will improve his level every season. I am sure of that.”
Gueye was used largely from the bench during Lille’s title-winning season but Garcia said his impact cannot be understated.
“He was training and playing at the maximum,” he said, “So I took him with the first team. He is always listening and is a very clever player.
“He was a young player then just discovering the professional world. But with his confidence and the help of the big players, he was one of our most important substitutes in that fantastic winning season.
“I remember a goal he scored in the Europa League against PSV Eindhoven with an amazing long distance kick. He was special.”
|Date of birth||26 September 1989|
|Joined||2 Aug, 2016|
|Joined from||Aston Villa|
|Signed by||Ronald Koeman|
|Contract duration||4 years|
|Contract expires||June 2020|
Tottenham H (H)
13 August 2016
|» Wikipedia Entry|
|Season||Squad No.||League Apps (sub)||League Goals||Cup Apps (sub)||Cup Goals||Total Apps (sub)||Total Goals|
|2016-17||17||23 (1)||1||2 (0)||0||25 (1)||1|
|Totals||23 (1)||1||2 (0)||0||25 (1)||1|
Note: Everton Career Stats on ToffeeWeb are updated after every game.