Everton have announced today that midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure has signed a new contract keeping him at Goodison Park until 2025.
The 30-year-old fomer Watford player joined the Blues three years ago having long been linked with a move to Merseyside, apparently being on the wish list of former manager Marco Silva as far back as 2018.
Mali international Doucoure first signed for Everton when Carlo Ancelotti was in charge and has since played under Rafa Benitez, Frank Lampard and now Sean Dyche.
That is quite a collection of managers and Doucoure has been pretty much a regular under all of them, until Lampard dropped him last season before the former Chelsea star was finally sacked in January.
When Dyche took his place, he restored the powerful midfielder to his team starting with his first game in charge, a 1-0 win over Arsenal in February.
For a while last season, Doucoure was an integral part of the new manager’s five-man midfield which helped to stabilise the side and strengthen what had been a very leaky defence under Lampard.
At this time Dyche was using several forwards as his lone front-man given the ongoing absence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Neal Maupay, Ellis Simms (briefly) and then mostly Demarai Gray were employed as makeshift strikers as Dyche struggled to find a way to replace the ex-England internationals’ goals and presence up front.
Early on I suggested that Dyche consider using Doucoure as a sort of emergency forward to support whoever was operating up front, rather as David Moyes had once done when he had been without a recognised centre-forward.
It seemed a good ploy, especially given that the French-born player had often contributed a considerable number of goals, particularly when playing for Watford.
Dyche seemed to be listening (!) and began using Doucoure in this role late on in the campaign and to good effect too.
Doucoure scored several important goals culminating in the only one when Everton beat Bournemouth on the final day of the season to secure Premier League survival, again.
That goal alone should have been reason enough to offer him a new contract!
However, although he has proved a good signing and is a player with important qualities who offers power and athleticism and certainly works hard putting in plenty of challenges, he has his weaknessess as well.
Too often he is guilty of giving the ball away in an almost casual, criminal fashion and this tendancy, which unfortunately is shared with others, does hamper the Toffees ability to keep the ball effectively.
Playing further upfield then would seem to help overcome this issue too.
Doucoure also has an important role to play in the squad as one of the most experienced players in the Blues team these days.
Perhaps he can celebrate his new contract with a goal tomorrow afternoon when Everton entertain Brighton at the Grand Old Lady.