Everton manager David Unsworth has revealed that midfielder Idrissa Gueye is "very, very close" to signing a new long-term at Goodison Park and believes the Senegal international will prove to be a "top player" for the Toffees in the years to come.
Gueye joined the Merseysiders from Championship outfit Aston Villa in the summer of 2016 and produced a number of excellent performances during his first season at Goodison. The former Lille star helped the Toffees achieve Europa League qualification last season and has already made 14 appearances in the current campaign.
Gueye missed Unsworth's first match in charge of Everton in his second spell as interim boss against Chelsea on Wednesday [25 October] after picking up a red card in the dismal defeat to Arsenal on Sunday, but the tough-tackling midfielder will likely start in his side's engine room against Leicester City this weekend as the beleaguered Blues go in search of a much-needed victory.
Speaking in his press conference ahead of the Leicester clash, Unsworth confirmed that Gueye has all but committed his future to Everton and lavished praise on a player he believes could become a real icon for the club in the future.
"I believe we're very very close [over Gueye's new contract] which is fantastic for Everton," Unsworth said. "It's not signed and sealed yet but it's very good news for Idrissa and everybody at Everton.
"He's a top, top player, I've watched many of his performances and he has been great for the last 18 months. To tie him down for a number of years is fantastic, he's a good guy, a humble guy, and he will be a top Everton player."
News of Gueye's new long-term deal will no doubt please the Everton supporters who have not had much to shout about so far this season, though it remains to be seen if Ross Barkley follows Gueye's lead and commits his future to his boyhood club.
The 23-year-old is widely expected to leave Everton amid interest from Chelsea and Tottenham and has just one year left on his current contract, but Unsworth said earlier in the week that he is hopeful he can "thrash something out" with the Wavertree-born attacker.
"My opinion of Ross? I'd love him to stay," Unsworth said. "He's a top talent, Everton have done great for him and he's done great for Everton. I would love for him to be persuaded to stay and sign a contract, we shouldn't be losing a player of his quality, I feel very strongly that we shouldn't be losing players of his quality.
"I'll sit down with him and discuss the possibility of signing a new contract and staying, we love him and he loves Everton. I want everybody to come together, hopefully we can thrash something out with Ross."