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Abdoulaye Doucouré 16

With midfield having been identified as an area of the team that needed an urgent overhaul after Carlo Ancelotti's first half-season in charge, Everton moved decisively in the 2020 close season to bring in three players who could potentially make an immediate impact on club's fortunes. After Allan and James Rodriguez were confirmed as the first new additions in the first week of September, Abdoulaye Doucouré was signed in a deal worth an initial £20m.

At one stage reportedly valued by the Hornets at £50m, Doucouré’s price was negotiated down by more than half, although a further £5m in appearance-related add-ons could eventually bring the transfer fee up to £25m.

Born in Meulan-en-Yvelines in Île de France, Doucuoré began his career at Rennes where he played 75 Ligue 1 games and scored 12 goals before the Hornets picked him up for an undisclosed fee in 2016.

He spent a year on loan at Granada before breaking into the first team at Vicarage Road and played 129 Premier League matches there, notching 17 goals.

At one time a target for his former boss, Marco Silva, when he was Everton manager, Doucouré left Watford after four seasons following that club’s relegation back to the Championship, which prompted Doucouré to seek a path back to the Premier League.

Identified by Marcel Brands and Carlo Ancelotti as the kind of powerful, energetic presence the Blues’ midfield needed, he signed a 3-year contract with the option to add an additional year, and slotted straight in to a completely revamped midfield for the start of the 2020-21 season.

Doucouré would do well, becoming an increasingly important member of a midfield that struggled at times both with and without James – the Colombian was frequently absent through injury but could be a liability at times given the weaknesses in his defensive game – and he was sorely missed when he spent two months out injured in the spring of 2021. It was a time when Everton arguably needed him most as the performances dropped off and Ancelotti battled to inspire the kind of fight needed to secure European football, particularly in home games. 

Ancelotti left Everton abrubtly after the conclusion of the 2020-21 campaign but it was business as usual for Abdoulaye under his successor, Rafael Benitez. He scored goals against Southampton and Norwich City early in the season as the Blues got off to a good start but Doucouré would join a burgeoning list of injured players in the Autumn of 2021 when he sustained another stress fracture in his foot that would keep him out for five weeks. 

Everton lost three and drew one of the four matches he missed in the worst part of that injury-blighted period and though he would come back in late November, he rejoined an increasingly dysfunctional side under a manager whose tenure was spiralling out of control as Everton began to slide down the Premier League table.

A groin injury picked up against Aston Villa in January would prevent him playing under new manager Frank Lampard until the end of February 2022 but after he regained match fitness, he played in every game but one as the Toffees eventually won their battle to avoid relegation to the Championship.

Doucouré began the next season playing in defeats to Chelsea and Aston Villa, pulling up with a hamstring injury in just the second match. It would be the New Year before he would make the starting line-up again, coming on for 7 sub appearances as Lampard struggled forlornly to turn around the team's fortunes as Everton slumped into the bottom three once more.

Lampard was sacked in late January 2023 but not before he had banished Doucouré to train with the Under-21s following an alleged row with the manager over the latter's treatment of team-mate Idrissa Gueye.

Appreciating what the newly-minted Mali international could provide in an attacking sense given his physique and stamina, Lampard's successor, Sean Dyche, immediately reinstated him to the starting XI on his arrival and Doucouré was once again regarded as an indispensible part of the side. So much so that his absence following an ill-advised altercation with Harry Kane in a home game with Tottenham earned him a potentially costly 3-game ban that would dent the recovery Dyche had been building.

Doucouré would return again, though, redeeming himselff with in a stunning 2-goal display at Brighton in an equally brilliant 5-1 win that pulled Everton out of the bottom 3with 3 games left to play and then smashed home the excellent goal that preserved the Toffees' top-flight status again with a 1-0 win over Bournemouth on the final day.

His comeback from outcast under Lampard to linchpin under Dyche was solidified when he signed a two-year contract extension in November 2023 that would keep him at Goodison until the summer of 2025.

FactFile

Squad number 16
Position Central midfield
Nationality French
Born Meulan-en-Yvelines
Date of birth 1 January 1993
Height 6'-0" (1.84 m)
Joined 8 September 2020
Joined from Watford
Signed under Carlo Ancelotti
Transfer fee £20m (^£25m)
Contract duration 3 + 2 years
Contract expires June 2025
Full debut v Tottenham H (A)
13 September 2020
Previous Clubs Rennes
Watford
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Everton Career

Season Squad Number League Apps (sub) League Goals Cup Apps (sub) Cup Goals Total Apps (sub) Total Goals
2023-24 16 26 (0) 6 1 (2) 0 27 (2) 6
2022-23 16 17 (8) 5 1 (1) 0 18 (9) 5
2021-22 16 29 (1) 2 2 (2) 0 31 (3) 2
2020-21 16 29 (0) 2 3 (2) 1 32 (2) 3
  Totals 101 (9) 15 7 (7) 1 108 (16) 16


Previous Career

Season Team Appearances (sub) Goals
2016-20 Watford 130 (11) 17
2015-16 Granada (loan) 13 (2) 0
2012-16 Rennes 32 (20) 16


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