Morgan Schneiderlin has backed Idrissa Gana Gueye to replicate his impressive Everton form at the World Cup finals as the midfielder revealed he’ll be willing his close friend to help Senegal go “as far as possible” in the tournament.
The Lions of Teranga kick off their campaign in Russia against Poland on Tuesday knowing they have a strong chance of qualifying from Group H which also includes Colombia and Japan.
Schneiderlin, who has formed a tight bond with his fellow Toffees midfielder both on and off the pitch, is confident Gana will have a strong tournament and says he will be crucial to any success for the African nation.
“He has a lot of caps for his country and everyone loves him back in Senegal,” the Frenchman told evertonfc.com. “He offers them exactly the same that he offers Everton – quality in midfield and that will to win the ball back. Hopefully he will go far as possible at the World Cup and I wish him the best.
“We are close and that helps on the pitch. With other players you can say things to them but when you are close friends you can be that little bit firmer because we have that relationship. So it is very important that we are close. But Gana is a great guy on and off the pitch. I knew him from playing in France and he has made amazing progress.”
Schneiderlin and Gana were regulars in the Everton engine room throughout the 2017/18, making 40 and 44 appearances respectively.
Gana, a 2016 summer signing from Aston Villa, made the second highest number of tackles in the Premier League with 117 successful challenges, and Schneiderlin says it is his teammate’s ability to win the ball back that helps the pair complement each other.
“I enjoy playing with him very much,” he added. “My mentality towards midfield players is that they have to find each other, they have to find that combination of passes and Gana and I can see that. I am always searching for him and then to get the ball back. He allows me to go further forward at times in the game and I like that a lot.
“Football is about how you use the ball and I like to play with Gana because he is aggressive and always wants to get the ball back. I try to do the same and then we will always look for each other. It is a pleasure to play with him.”