Cheikhou Kouyate is one of those people who brings sunshine into your life. Always cheerful. An infectious smile. A raucous laugh. He’s a conduit for positivity. And he’s a bloody good player.
But I’m worried that despite his smiles, he’s not happy. He’s made clear he prefers to play in midfield, yet this season he’s been part of a back three, and is now playing at right back. He doesn’t complain. He just gets on with it, and says he’s happy to do whatever he needs to for the team. Just as you would expect. A man like him is worth his weight in gold to the team, and in theory saves us millions, because if we didn’t have him we’d probably need an extra defender in the squad.
However, Kouyate was bought as a rampaging midfielder, and that’s where we get the best out of him. His mistakes are few, he rarely has a bad or an average game, and is an absolute beast. I can pay him no bigger compliment than to say that he often reminds me of Patrick Vieira. The trouble is we now have an in form Pedro Obiang, who plays in a very similar way to Kouyate. So long as we play a midfield four, it’s difficult to see how Noble, Obiang and Kouyate can all play together.
So if I were Slaven Bilic (and there’s a thought…) I might well sit down for a little heart to heart with Kouyate and check (see what I did there?) that he is OK and isn’t going to want to throw his toys out of his pram at any point. It would be unthinkable to lose him in the summer.