In many ways, Abdoulaye Doucoure has been Everton’s player of the year. The least heralded of the trio of signings last summer that went straight into Carlo Ancelotti’s lineup, the box-to-box midfielder’s unrelenting spirit and indefatigable running have made him as key a player to the Toffees as any other.
Doucoure has made 28 appearances already this season, only behind Gylfi SIgurdsson and Michael Keane, picking up three goals and three assists to go with his boundless intensity. With Allan out injured over the last couple of months, Doucoure’s role has expanded to provide support everywhere required, with the French-born player’s name one of the first that Ancelotti puts down every time a starting XI is announced.
After Ancelotti observed his midfield overrun time and again and resorting to using Sigurdsson as a defensive midfielder more often than necessary during the 2019-20 campaign, it was clear the Blues needed midfield reinforcements. With Allan coming over from Ancelotti’s previous club Napoli, there was a spot open for another dynamic player in the centre.
Over the summer, Everton had expressed their interest in bringing in Southampton’s Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, but once the Dane had indicated that he wanted to go to Tottenham Hotspur instead, Ancelotti turned to Director of Football Marcel Brands who pointed him in the direction of Doucoure, recently relegated with Watford FC. The Blues had previously attempted to bring in the midfielder a number of times after Marco Silva joined the Toffees, signing Richarlison as well.
Speaking over the weekend, Ancelotti admitted that the 28-year-old was not part of his original plans [Echo] -
“When we started to talk about the transfer window, Doucoure was on the list of the club. He was not on my list, but we talked together and we both agreed to sign him.
“I think it was, after six months, a really fantastic signing because Doucoure is playing really well.”
The only game Doucoure has missed was the recent home draw against Leicester City when he was suspended for picking up five bookings over the first half of the season. What has been most incredible about Doucoure is his unlimited reserves of energy - late in games with most Blues almost at a standstill, he can still be seen clearing the ball out of defence and chasing it down deep in the opponents’ half.
“Doucoure is really good physically and he’s able to recover really fast, really quick.
“He doesn’t show problems with his physical condition. He has played a lot of games but he is still really good, fresh, and has no problems at all.”
Ancelotti has previously tipped Doucoure to win a France international berth as well with the midfielder only having one youth appearance for the current World Cup champions.
What is refreshing however about Ancelotti’s comments is that even though the 61-year-old has been there and done that in the world of football, he was still quick to admit when he doesn’t know a player or his characteristics, and was willing to defer to the knowledge of his peers, in this case Brands.
This only bodes well for the Blues as we go forward, especially as the club are still recovering from some horrendous transfer mistakes when Ronald Koeman and Steve Walsh handed out some unconscionable wages to accumulate an unbalanced squad that the Blues are still hamstrung by.
Brands’ contract with the Blues expires at the end of this season, though most media sources close to the club seem to indicate this is nothing to worry about as he is expected to sign a new deal even though rumours have it that Manchester United are lurking. Stability in the club’s leadership will only continue to manifest itself in consistency on the pitch and taking the club forward.