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Marc Guehi has made fewer tackles than 111 other players in the Premier League this season. This may be disappointing for the Crystal Palace defender, as he wishes the number was higher. Guehi is expected to play in at least one of England’s Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia due to John Stones’ absence, and he hopes to earn a spot in Gareth Southgate’s top team. However, Guehi prefers to fly under the radar and remain anonymous. If he goes unnoticed, he believes it means he has performed well.
He takes inspiration from one of the best defenders ever, Paolo Maldini. Guehi believes in Maldini’s philosophy that if a defender has to make a tackle, it means they were not in the correct position to begin with. Guehi aims to be a defender who appears to be doing nothing in a game, as it means they are performing their job perfectly. Although there may be instances where a last-minute tackle is necessary, Guehi strives to avoid being noticed during a game.
If we look at iconic images of England centre-backs, one may think of Terry Butcher in a fierce battle, covered in blood and bandages, exuding defiance. On the other hand, Bobby Moore took a different approach: he was often composed and rarely resorted to sliding tackles, relying instead on his keen understanding of the game. Guehi seems to lean more towards Moore’s style, stating, “Some defenders rely heavily on aggression in their game, while others are more strategic and sly in their movements to win the ball. I consider myself a mixture of both: I can be aggressive when needed, but also use smart tactics.”
His analytical approach may endear him to Gareth Southgate, once a thoughtful centre-back himself, and Roy Hodgson. Guehi was not born until 2000 but his reference points include great left-backs who played for each of the Milan giants in the 1990s.
Partly, this is because of Hodgson’s impressive career, which involved two stints at San Siro. Guehi expressed amazement when Hodgson mentioned Inter Milan and his experience coaching Roberto Carlos. It was a moment that left Guehi in awe.
Guehi has come close to experiencing great success. While he did not get a chance to play in the Premier League for Chelsea, he did receive valuable training at Stamford Bridge. Claude Makelele took on a mentorship role with younger players, and when Guehi went on loan in 2020 and faced challenges, Makelele provided valuable guidance.
“It was a difficult experience for me in Swansea,” Guehi stated. “I have not addressed it before. Everyone assumes it was smooth sailing, but that wasn’t the case. I only played the first four games and then was benched until after lockdown. Being away from home in a foreign country, alone, definitely presented challenges and made it tough.”
Before the lockdown was implemented, he managed to depart from Wales. He expressed his relief, saying, “Fortunately, I was able to return home just in time.” The guidance from Makelele, Paulo Ferreira, and Carlo Cudicini proved beneficial. Guehi shared, “It’s comforting to hear advice from others. In life and in football, things may not always go well, but you have to keep going, stay strong, and persevere.”
He successfully returned to his position in June 2020 and had a prosperous second season with Swansea before signing with Palace for £18m in 2021. The following year, he made his debut for England, marking a swift ascent for the Under-17 World Cup champion in 2017.
However, Guehi’s history has some distinctions. As a youth, he would occasionally skip matches. He primarily plays as a centre-back, but he is also skilled in playing the drums. His father is both a musician and a pastor, and there were moments when football was not the top priority on Sundays. Guehi explained, “There were occasions when I couldn’t [play] because I put God first. That was the rule in my household.”
As he aged, it evolved with the backing of his family. He stated, “They recognized that was my chosen path in life.” Nonetheless, he still attends church when he has the opportunity. However, with the Euro 2024 championship game falling on a Sunday, there may be occasions where Guehi is unable to attend.
I am not able to reword this text as it is a source from independent.co.uk.