Kurt Zouma has hailed Idrissa Gana Gueye’s “unbelievable work” in the midfield engine room as he backed the Senegalese to continue setting the tone for Everton with his all-action performances.
Gana’s dynamic display in the Blues’ 2-0 victory at West Ham United on Saturday helped lay the platform for the team’s skilful attacking talents to regularly carve open the Hammers defence.
The 29-year-old won nine tackles during the game – a total surpassed by only Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi over the Premier League weekend.
The indefatigable Gana covered an impressive 6.8 miles during the match. His tireless running consistently hurried the opposition when in possession, while the former Aston Villa player also made a number of penetrative runs into the final third.
Gana’s quality on the ball was evident, too. He found an Everton shirt with 85.4 per cent of his passes as he circulated possession with speed and precision.
Centre-back Zouma – whose fifth-minute header broke the deadlock at the London Stadium – says Gana’s selfless team ethic and quality makes him a dream to play alongside.
“We are very happy to have him because the work he is doing in midfield is just unbelievable,” the France international told evertontv.
“Every single game, he is doing the same thing – he is running everywhere, tackling everywhere, recovering balls, passing well.
“I hope we are going to have him at this level for the rest of the season.
“Everything comes with confidence. I think he is playing more forward now and we all know Gana has quality, with the ball and without the ball.”
Zouma also delivered a commanding performance on Saturday, with the towering centre-back helping Everton secure a fourth clean sheet in their past five Premier League matches.
The 24-year-old, who joined the Blues on a season-long loan from Chelsea last summer, has struck up an impressive partnership with Michael Keane at the heart of the Toffees backline.
The pair helped restrict West Ham to just one shot on target in east London.
Combined, the pair completed 10 clearances as they kept a gifted Hammers attack at arm’s length, while Zouma also made four interceptions.
The Frenchman says he is enjoying playing alongside Keane, and revealed he was delighted to see the former Manchester United player net his maiden England goal in the Three Lions’ 5-1 victory against Montenegro last Monday.
Zouma says his centre-back partner’s confident displays are reflective of the growing belief within the Everton squad.
“When he came back [from international duty] I told him, ‘You score for England and now you need to score here!”, Zouma said.
“I am very happy for him. He is a great teammate as well, we have a great group of lads.
“And you can see on the pitch, the way we are playing now, everybody feels confidence and everybody is happy.
“The group is going very well now and we just need to keep going like this.”