There is no doubting that Gylfi Sigurdsson is a very, very good player. One that performs so admirably at clubs outside of the ‘top six’ that you look at him and think, “he could easily play in the Champions League” – but there is a reason why he has never hit the top level throughout his career.
The Icelandic international hit seven, seven, eleven and nine goals respectively in each of his four seasons at Swansea, showcasing his consistency at top-flight level and his ability to deliver excellent goalscoring numbers from a central attacking midfield position.
His form at the Liberty Stadium, in which he would often score phenomenal free-kicks and pose a threat to the opposition by scoring or supplying assists, did in fact catch the attention of one top club – Tottenham. The north London side signed the playmaker from Hoffenheim having been impressed with his first season in the Premier League whilst on loan from the Bundesliga side at the Swans.
It was then that you thought, “right, he’s where he belongs now”, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. Sigurdsson never really nailed down a consistent place in the starting eleven, and scored just eight league goals in two seasons at the club before being sold to Swansea.
As soon as he returned to South Wales, the midfielder returned back to the form he had shown before the move to Spurs. Perhaps he just doesn’t possess the ‘big player’ mentality. Perhaps he just enjoys being the big fish in a small pond; for whatever reason, there is a player there who has an abundance of talent, but never really does anything substantial with it.
A big move to Everton gave the former Reading man the chance to show he could live up to the hype at a club whose main objective wasn’t just to avoid relegation, and instead challenge for Europe and some domestic silverware.
His first season at Goodison Park delivered just four league goals as it looked like expectations had got the better of Sigurdsson once again. In the current campaign however, his second season at the club, he has been much improved, scoring six goals already under Marco Silva.
However, his old faults are still apparent. In a crucial match at home to Watford, who are also challenging the Toffees for a European place, the 29-year-old missed a penalty which would’ve gone some way to giving his side a crucial three points. Only a last-gasp Lucas Digne free-kick salvaged a point in the end for the Merseysiders, in a game that could still cost Everton dearly in May.
Maybe moments like that are why Sigurdsson has never made it to the top. Maybe that’s why he’s at Everton. The talent is there, but mentally, he can never make that jump and be the decisive man for his side when they really need him, with the exception of clubs battling relegation of course.
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He is about to enter his thirties, and could well turn out to be a late bloomer. However, it is moments like the aforementioned against the Hornets and his passenger-like status at Spurs that makes one feel he isn’t ruthless enough to play at the highest level of the game; he must convince his doubters when he faces his old club this Sunday.