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Idrissa Gueye: “I needed a change of scenery”

In an exclusive interview given to L’Équipe, Aston Villa’s new midfielder Idrissa Gueye discussed his decision to join the Premier League outfit.

Why did you choose Aston Villa?

Things flowed immediately with the coach. I saw his game style and where he was counting on putting me (on the right hand side of midfield in a 4-3-3 formation). He had watched a lot of my matches. That gave me confidence. He told me super nice things and that pushed me to make this decision. I also wanted to sign for a club quickly so that I could prepare with my new club.

What happened with Marseille?

My decision was always directed towards England. I never hid that when I spoke with them (Marseille). I say this without degrading Marseille, which is a big club and which could have also been a good springboard. I needed a change of scenery. The most important thing was to get my feet in England for my progression and to look to play for great clubs in the future. This is a league that should suit me perfectly. The box to box, that is my style. I think I will enjoy myself.

Aston Villa finished only 17th last year. Southampton, who finished 7th, were also supposedly interested in you…

There were a few clubs but I wasn’t necessarily their priority. At Southampton, I was number three (on their shortlist) and they never made an offer. Should I have taken the risk of waiting and then no longer having the chance to make my own decision? At Aston Villa, I felt good. They showed me their desire to have me. I also spoke with some guys like Didier (Drogba), Momo Diamé and Diomansy Kamara who too me to go. It is a nice challenge and I am ready to face up to it. And even if the team has had difficult seasons, they remain a big club.

Several years ago, someone from Senegal would have chosen Marseille over a foreign club, is that not correct?

Yes. Last year, if they had called me, I would have gone without hesitation. But here, I had the choice and I was one year more experienced. Lille? It will always be the club of my heart. If I am here, it is thanks to them and Diambars (his youth academy in Senegal).

Have you looked at photos of your future teammates in order to know who they are for when you arrive?

Yes, it is important (he laughs). I already ran into Joe Cole over there. He gave me his phone number and says he will show me the good places. The coach already came to him about my arrival. Truly, I am sure that I am going to have a great time. And also, my daughter speaks English: that’s great too!

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