Senegalese international Idrissa Gueye has fitted seamlessly into the Paris Saint-Germain midfield in the opening exchanges of the 2019/20 season.
Gueye marked his debut in a routine 4-0 win against Toulouse in August and PSG have gone onto win in all seven of his appearances for the club in all competitions.
His tireless energy levels are an integral asset in the heart of midfield and it’s no coincidence that PSG play better when the former Everton midfielder is in the starting line-up.
Prior to his debut, PSG had opened the season with a 3-0 win against Nimes and a 2-1 defeat against Stade Rennes. Gueye has featured in all but one of their matches since and they ironically succumbed to a surprise 2-0 defeat against Stade Reims at the Parc des Princes when he was absent.
So why is Gueye so important to the functioning of the team? I think this was best described by the man himself…
Speaking ahead of his move, Gueye told PSG.FR, “As everyone knows, I’m a defensive midfielder, a hard worker, there for the team and ready to make sacrifices to help the team.”
“I’m always ready to give everything on the pitch: chase down opponents, defend and above all, I’m happy when I’m playing football, I was made for that and it’s my life. I’m not scared of a battle and I don’t pay too much attention to the stats. I just give everything for the shirt and my teammates to try and win.”
The 30-year-old may not pay attention to the statistics himself, but it’s the statistics that showcase his importance to the team. He’s averaged 3.2 tackles and 2.2 interceptions per game and has the fourth-best average rating (7.45) in the French top-flight on WhoScored.
As well as boasting phenomenal defensive statistics, Gueye has also made an impact on the ball, averaging the second-most passes (84.8 per match) in Ligue 1 with a pass completion rate of 91%.
It’s his selfless role in the midfield and his team-orientated mentality that enables Marco Verratti the freedom to create from midfield and Angel Di Maria the license to break into more advanced areas.
Moreover, PSG haven’t conceded when Gueye has played, which shows that his contribution has alleviated pressure on the defence. Gueye launched his career in France with Lille and won the Ligue 1 title in 2011. He went onto make 176 appearances for Les Dogues before venturing to England to join Aston Villa.
His maiden season at Villa Park ended in relegation but his performances attracted the interest of Everton manager Ronald Koeman. Gueye was by far one of the most effective central defensive midfielders in the Premier League during his three seasons at Goodison Park and he’s reaping the fruits of his labour in the French capital.
After spending the entirety of his career in the mid-market of European football, Gueye finally has the opportunity to prove his worth in the highest realms of world football. He’s living out his dream with one of the biggest clubs in Europe and his match-winning impact in midfield could well take PSG to the next level in the Champions League.