Pat Nevin has hailed Gylfi Sigurdsson’s potent mixture of “special” ability, ceaseless work-rate and football intelligence, as he backed the Icelander to help bring the best out of his fellow attacking talents.
Former Blues winger Nevin believes the “fantastically creative” Sigurdsson can unlock the potential of the Blues’ forward players, while setting an example with his attitude and application.
The 29-year-old playmaker – who signed for Everton for a Club-record fee back in August 2017 – has kicked off the campaign with a string of impressive displays.
He has hit two goals already this season, following up his strike in the 3-1 Carabao Cup triumph over Rotherham United with a thumping header against West Ham United on Sunday.
Sigurdsson’s inventiveness has also caught the eye - he has completed 10 key passes, the most of any Everton player.
Nevin - who made 112 appearances and scored 21 goals in a four-year spell at Goodison Park between 1988 and 1992 - is a huge admirer of the Iceland international and believes he will be an integral figure as the Blues embark on a new era under Marco Silva.
“I think he is a spectacularly special player that you can build your team around,” he told evertonfc.com
"His vision is outstanding. When you’re watching the game, and if you’re a creative-type player like I was myself, you see the passes that should be played.
“You get players who make them some of the time but then you see players like him – if the pass is on he will make it.
“He won’t leave the ball short, he’ll position it right. He has that gift of spacial awareness.
“Because he’s got that, he will make instant understandings with the players around him. So, if Theo Walcott makes a run into space, the ball will arrive there. There is no maybe, he will find him.
“He’s got the vision to see the pass and the skill to execute it.”
Nevin, now a football pundit for the BBC, believes the Blues’ myriad of attacking talents will thrive on the service provided by Sigurdsson.
In turn, he insists linking up with players of such quality will serve to elevate Sigurdsson’s levels to even greater heights.
“It is the dream scenario, really, for him to be playing with the likes of Richarlison, Walcott and Bernard,” he said. “If he has got that pace and movement in front of him, his quality can come to the fore.
“What he needs is attacking players making intelligent runs because he will find them. And I think if Cenk Tosun keeps making the type of runs he is doing, then goals will come for him, too.
“The good thing for players like Tosun and the other forward players is – when they now they have someone of Sigurdsson’s ability in the side - they will make those runs more often and the ball will land at their feet. I think people enjoy playing with Sigurdsson.
“His set-piece delivery is just extraordinary, too. We all know about his free-kicks and, of course, he can arrive late into the box and score goals. He is a real special player.”
Sigurdsson was handed the captain’s armband by Everton boss Silva for the Blues’ clash with West Ham on Sunday. Former Scotland international Nevin says the decision came as “no surprise” and believes the Icelander’s football brain and work ethic identify him as a leader on the pitch.
Indeed, as well getting on the scoresheet, Sigurdsson worked like fury throughout the 90 minutes against the Hammers.
He covered some 7.4 miles during the game – more than any other player on the pitch.
The playmaker has consistently shown his willingness to do the dirty work this season, with only Idrissa Gana Gueye, Seamus Coleman and Tom Davies having made more tackles.
Nevin says Sigurdsson’s mixture of style and substance further mark him out as a creative talent.
“There are different types of captains, you don’t always have to be shouting and balling, you can lead by example,” he explained.
“Nobody can look at him and think ‘you’re not putting the effort in’. If he has to sacrifice himself for more defensive duties, he will do it. That’s obviously not where he can do the most damage but he’ll do what’s best for the team.
“Everton fans will realise that. Evertonians know what they’re talking about.
“If a player is putting in the miles and the effort, it doesn’t go unnoticed. It doesn’t even have to be tackling, it could just be getting into an area to close things down. That comes down to match awareness and football intelligence.
“You can get some creative players who just don’t put the effort in and it winds me up to be honest. They are not maximising their talent.
“The really top players don’t slack off. You want players who work hard week after week and certainly Gylfi Sigurdsson certainly does that."