This article is part of Football FanCast’s Expert Roundup feature, which provides three quotes from those in the know in order to illuminate fundamental strengths, weaknesses, quirks, stylistic comparisons and general observations of players, transfer targets and confirmed signings.
Having addressed some long-standing problem areas and brought in seven very possibly shrewd new recruits, the general perception of Everton’s business this summer is that they were just one centre-back away from enjoying a 10/10 transfer window (more on this very soon).
And in Jean-Philippe Gbamin they conceivably have not only a like-for-like replacement for their departed pocket battleship Idrissa Gueye, but a stand-out star of the Premier League for seasons to come.
But who is Gbamin and why does his £25m fee equate to a bargain in today’s market?
Football Fancast takes a look at what those in the know have had to say about the 23-year-old.
In Gbamin’s three seasons at Mainz he established himself as a responsible midfielder entrusted to marshal proceedings ahead of his back-line before sensibly recycling possession. His consistent displays in this role won him many admirers.
One such admirer was Garner, who informed The Athletic this week of a scouting mission on behalf of the Baggies two years ago that produced a pleasant surprise.
“I flew out to watch Mainz against Frankfurt to look at a couple of players that had been flagged. Jean-Philippe Gbamin wasn’t one of them but he was the one that caught my eye straight away. He could have only been 21 or 22 and was outstanding in the No 6 role in front of the defence.”
“Physically he’s excellent: he’s very athletic, has got good speed, balance and strength.”
Unfortunately for West Brom, budgetary restraints meant no bid was forthcoming but money wasn’t an issue for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, who reportedly enquired about the Ivorian’s availability last year.
Alas, again, no firm bid was made which left the door ajar this summer for the Toffees to swoop in and get their man, clearly to the delight of Goodison boss Marco Silva. As per the Daily Telegraph:
“Jean-Philippe is a player who has developed really well during the last three seasons and achieved a very good level of performance playing in a high level competition like the Bundesliga.”
“He is ready for this challenge – to come and help us to keep getting better. He is full of ambition to play for Everton, fits with our model and he will give us different solutions in our midfield.”
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Different solutions to their midfield but also, potentially, an answer to Everton’s lack of options at the back because here we return to their centre-back quandary with only Michael Keane and Yerry Mina on their books recognised in that position.
Fellow new boy Djibril Sidebe could convert there for sure, as can Mason Holgate, but according to Gbamin’s agent another option lies with his client.
We would never usually turn to the thoughts of a player’s agent – after all, they are hardly objective – but when those thoughts are this intriguing how could we not? As per Squawka:
“In my opinion, he is a player worth 60 million euros. It’s time for him to play as a centre-back. There he would be a top player in all four major leagues and would make a great career.”
Whether it’s as a number 6 or transplanted into Everton’s defence, what Silva has is a player of substance.
Give it a couple of months and the Gwladys Street faithful might well be asking ‘Idrissa who?’