February 29, 2024

After all, they welcomed Andre Gomes back from a relatively successful loan spell, surely seeking to force the issue with the likes of James Garner, Amadou Onana, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Idrissa Gueye and even Dele Alli.

Whilst that has not quite come to fruition, there was still little worry about that role, with Sean Dyche likely more wary of his threadbare options at full-back.

And yet, Saturday saw the former Burnley boss put in an unfamiliar position, given his ever-present Belgian maestro was absent due to a minor calf injury.

Whilst Gueye filled in well, it was clear that after 70 minutes the ageing stalwart was shattered, struggling to keep up with the pace of Brighton and Hove Albion’s play.

The Goodison Park crowd called for change, but his bench somehow had no central midfielders.

It perhaps might draw into question one move made by Frank Lampard, who alongside the numerous failures he posted, was perhaps too quick to offload Allan.

How good was Allan?

Although the combative Brazilian is 32 years old, the 34-year-old Gueye has already proven in this campaign that age is no barrier for someone in a similar role.

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After all, the current Al Wahda star, who was brought to Merseyside by a Carlo Ancelotti who was recently slammed for his affiliation to the Toffees, did impress during his two years there.

Signed for just £21m from Napoli, even Rafa Benitez recognised his qualities, branding him a ‘warrior’ back in 2021. The legendary Italian boss would echo such a sentiment, insisting Evertonians would fall in ‘love’ with his ‘fantastic energy and quality in midfield’.

Such form was more than present during his debut year in England, with the enforcer maintaining 3.3 tackles and one clearance per game in the Premier League.

Although he might not have been a starter, it is clear that a lack of depth in such a key role is plaguing the club. Should they suffer from one or two more injuries, which is always liable with the physical demands of Dyche’s football, the decision to offload Allan for a cut price could become even more ludicrous.

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