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Talk of Wilfried Zaha arriving at Goodison Park this week will be a nice distraction for Everton fans who look set to lose Idrissa Gueye to Paris Saint-Germain after a lengthy pursuit.

The all-action midfielder was heavily linked in January but Les Parisiens could not come to an agreement on a price for the 29-year-old. Now Everton are expected to pocket £28million for the Senegalese enforcer.

Replacing Gueye will be hard – nigh-on impossible, in fact. He was fourth in the Premier League for interceptions per 90 last season (2.38), as well as attempted (4.52), and won (2.83) more tackles than any other top-flight midfielder.

N'Golo Kanté has been held up as the standard-bearer for ball-winning midfielders in the Premier League since he arrived at Leicester City in 2015. But Gueye has been right there with the Frenchman, eclipsing him last term with the Chelsea star used in a box-to-box role.

Using the data in the Football Whispers Lab, we have given Everton director of football Marcel Brands a helping hand by identifying five players who could replace the outgoing Gueye based on their statistical output last term.

Jefferson Lerma – Bournemouth

Jefferson-Lerma's stats for Bournemouth in the Premier League in 2018/19

Signed by the Cherries following an impressive showing at last summer's World Cup, the Ecuadorian midfielder wasted no time settling into life in the Premier League in his typically combative manner, picking up 12 yellow cards – the second-most of any top-flight midfielder

More importantly, the 24-year-old made 1.97 interceptions per 90 last season, enough to rank 13th among Premier League midfielders. Lerma was 17th for successful defensive duels (6.84 per 90) and fourth for possessions won in the middle third with 4.98 gains per 90.

The stumbling block for the Toffees will be Bournemouth's asking price. The Cherries will have no desire to let the former Levante man leave and Everton could have pay beyond what they receive for Gueye to prise the South American away from the South Coast.

Mario LeminaSouthampton

Mario Lemina's stats for Southampton in the Premier League in 2018/19

According to widespread reports, the Gabonese midfielder is Wolves have been mooted today, but Everton should take advantage of Lemina's position at St. Mary's.

Lemina might not be an obvious, like-for-like candidate to replace Gueye but he is deceptively good at the defensive side of the game. Despite his relative lack of action for Southampton last term, totalling 1,614 minutes, Lemina managed 2.39 interceptions per 90 – third behind only Gueye and Watford‘s Étienne Capoue.

That sense of timing contributed to 6.91 successful defensive duels – ranking Lemina 16th in the Premier League – while he also triumphed in 1.78 of of 2.73 tackles per 90, putting him 15th among his midfield peers. He is also an accomplished dribbler, able to weave his way out of trouble and start counter attacks.

Omar Mascarell – Schalke

Stats for Schalke midfielder Omar Mascarell in the Bundesliga in 2018/19

The Spaniard has been linked with a move to the Premier League before with Everton's Merseyside rivals Liverpool taking a close look in 2017, according to Football Whispers sources. Mascarell has played in England previously, spending time on loan at Derby County in 2014/15.

Mascarell, now 26, instead moved to the Bundesliga last summer after Real Madrid activated his buyback clause before selling him to Schalke. Although he only made 13 league appearances for the Gelsenkirchen outfit, Mascarell's qualities were apparent at the VELTINS-Arena.

Last term he ranked 11th among Bundesliga midfielders for interceptions (2.08 per 90) while his use of the ball is more progressive than Gueye's. He’s incisive and press resistant in the sense his first instinct isn’t to retreat and play the ball backwards – evidenced by 6.7 long passes per 90 last term, ranking 11th among midfielders in Germany.

Esteban Rolón – Malága

Stats for Genoa's on-loan midfielder Esteban Rolón in Serie A in 2018/19

The 2018/19 campaign was an important one for Rolón who, at 24, still has fewer than 100 career appearances to his name. Signed by Malága two summers ago after breaking through in his homeland with Argentinos Juniors – Diego Maradona's old club, no less – Rolón was parked on loan at Serie A‘s Genoa last term.

He took to the challenge of playing in another country with relish and was a success with the Rossoblu. He was fourth among midfielders in Serie A for tackles attempted (3.97 per 90), third for successful tackles (2.5) and 20th for defensive duels won (7.16).

On top of that, the Argentine won possession in the attacking third 0.86 times per 90, enough to put him 14th in the league for midfielders, demonstrating a willingness to get high and press. His passing must improve but as a young, cost-effective alternative, he represents an intriguing option.

Santiago Cáseres – Villarreal

Five players Everton could target to replace Idrissa Gueye

Another Argentine playing in Spain and another project for Everton in their search for a successor to Gueye. The Buenos Aires native moved to LaLiga last summer, signing a five-year deal with the Yellow Submarine following interest from Atlético Madrid, who were reportedly unwilling to match his £9.62million release clause.

While he only made 13 LaLiga appearances in his first season in Europe, Cáseres showed exactly why Villarreal brought him over from South America. No midfielder in Spain's top-flight attempted more tackles (3.85 per 90) and he was successful with 2.04 of those, ranking seventh overall.

Cáseres' displays in Argentina with Vélez Sarsfield saw him draw comparisons with former Barcelona and Liverpool favourite Javier Mascherano but, in truth, he's more refined than the tenacious Argentine.

A good passer of the ball, Cáseres completed 90.8 per cent of his passes last term.


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