The BBC African Footballer of the Year award for 2018 was decided this week with Mohamed Salah winning the accolade, but one footballer has seemed to have slipped through the cracks. Everton player Idrissa Gueye has long been one of the most under appreciated players in his position. Screening the defense, anchoring the team and helping create a seamless transition from defense to attack are some of the tasks which Gueye does with ease. His biggest strength is the defensive contribution which he makes, a massive advantage for defensive midfielder. In fact, since his move to Merseyside in 16-17, he has made the most tackles in the division, a large reason for the decrease Everton have had in conceded goals since he joined. Defensively, his reading of the game is impeccable, which accounts for the large number of interceptions, blocks and ball recoveries he makes. As of the 16th December, Gueye has the most tackles and interceptions per game in Europe’s top five leagues, at 6.6 every 90 minutes. Another capability he has is in-game intelligence, a rare ability which only the best midfielders have. This has been shown through the amount of fouls he has drawn the season a figure which stands at 1.3 a game. Drawing fouls requires the player to get into a position where winning the foul will be beneficial, as well as tempting the defender into making a careless tackle. This whole process has to be completed in a split second, increasing the difficulty. Primarily deployed as a defensive midfielder, Gueye’s attacking contribution is largely unnoticeable, however his distribution certainly isn’t. While Idrissa may not have deserved the award especially after Salah’s stellar season, it is now clear to see that he should have been a strong contender. Aside from that, one should finally begin to realise the mammoth contributions made by one of the most undervalued players on the globe. Even at the age of 29, with a valuation of £20 million, Idrissa Gueye would be a stellar choice and quick fix for any of the top 6 clubs.Published in Daily Times, December 18th2018.