With the signing of Abdoulaye Doucoure last night, Everton have completed deals for all three of their midfield targets. So what will Frenchman Doucoure bring to the team?
Alongside Allan and James Rodriguez, Doucoure’s signing completes a virtual complete overhaul of the Everton midfield ready for the new season starting on Sunday.
Allan brings that tenacity and ball-winning strength, Rodriguez will hopefully find his best form and offer genuine star quality and a level of creative attacking flair and imagination that the Toffees haven’t seen in decades, if ever.
Doucoure’s contributions are a little more difficult to always identify. By this I mean he is not an outstanding player in any one area of the game, but rather he contributes in an all-round and sometimes intangible way to his sides performances.
The 27-year-old Frenchman is obviously a very strong and athletic player and that in itself is significant, as he will offer a presence and power that the Blues have lacked in their engine room for far too long.
He has a rangy style and stride that sees him cover huge amounts of ground all over the pitch, again something seriously lacking in the current crop of midfielders.
Doucoure can win the ball, has surprisingly quick feet and is very hard to knock off the ball when he has won it. He also carries it very well from midfield and this is a quality Everton are certainly very much in need of.
The Blues thought they had brought in a player who could do that effectively when they signed Alex Iwobi from Arsenal last summer.
However, Iwobi’s contributions were very inconsistent and fitful and he often failed to make any concrete impact in too many games, particularly struggling to produce good quality final balls.
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It’s not just about being able to carry the ball but also to do so, effectively committing defenders and creating space for others as well as producing that decent final ball.
Hopefully Doucoure will be able to do that. And looking at his highlight reels, he likes to cut inside from a slightly wider position and shoot with his right foot. Goals from midfield is another thing the Toffees have lacked for far too long.
As far as tactics and formations go, although Doucoure can operate in a three or four-man midfield, perhaps he is best suited to a 4-4-2, perhaps playing alongside Allan in a central two.
But either way he is flexible enough to play in several different formations so that will again help give Carlo Ancelotti more options.
At his best, he should be able to contribute at least half a dozen assists and goals in an average season. That together with his contributions to the team’s defensive work, should make him a valuable addition to this Everton team.