06/11/2023 23comments  |  Jump to last

Everton have been boosted by the news that Abdoulaye Doucouré looks set to remain with the Blues rather than go to the Africa Cup of Nations with Mali in January.

The 30-year-old, who recently tied himself to the club until 2025 by signing a two-year contract extension, had been expected to be called up by Mali head coach Eric Sékou Chelle but he has effectively ruled himself out in quotes attributed to him by Click Liverpool.

“I don’t think I’m going to make the Africa Nations Cup, to be honest,” Doucouré said. “I think I’m going to stay here in an Everton shirt. I don’t want to go.

“It’s not a big, big decision because I went only one time for the Mali national team. I want to focus really on my career and on the club.

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“I have all the respect for my country, but I am going to stay here.”

Born in France and capped by Les Bleus from Under-17 all the way to Under-21 level, Doucouré switched his allegiance to Mali last year and played in a World Cup qualifier against Tunisia but a recent report by Sport News Africa provided an indication that all was not well where his relationship with his new country's federation was concerned.

Doucouré was overlooked by Chelle for the AFCoN qualifiers which began in 2022 on the grounds that he wasn't 100% fit, with the newly-appointed Mali coach blaming the fact that he had been given pain-killing injections to get through the end of the 2021-22 season as Everton battled relegation.

"Abdoulaye Doucouré has been playing for 3 months on injections with his team, who were trying to stay up," Chelle is quoted as saying of the midfielder. "They forced him to play on cortisone with infiltration and now I don't want to take any risks. He's not 100%." 

By the time the next round of qualifiers came round earier this year, Chelle put his decision not to include the former Watford man down to the wealth of midfield options at his disposal.

As a result, Sport News Africa say that Doucouré is no longer in contact with the Mali national team and has not responded to their calls or messages which suggests that his brief involvement with senior international football is already over.

It's a positive development for Sean Dyche who stands to lose Idrissa Gueye for as long as six weeks in January as he participates in the bi-annual tournament with Senegal.



Reader Comments (23)

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Jerome Shields
1 Posted 06/11/2023 at 04:06:28
This is a positive.
Jerome Shields
2 Posted 06/11/2023 at 04:58:05
Better to concentrate on his club career, though his international career seems to have run its course anyway.

I wish Gana and Coleman would do the same.

Derek Thomas
3 Posted 06/11/2023 at 06:49:23
I'd guess it was a condition of the 2-year part of the deal... and fair enough too.
Brian Keating
4 Posted 06/11/2023 at 07:13:53
Jerome (2) - I'm only too happy for Coleman to play for Ireland and Gana to play for Senegal.

If they chose differently they'd be different people. Especially Coleman, whose No 1 strength is absolute commitment. He's captain of his club and country for a reason.

Ian Jones
5 Posted 06/11/2023 at 08:14:28
Derek, I can't see how the club can justify such a condition.

From what I have read, I think Doucoure doesn't like the present Mali set up and has chosen to walk away from international duty.

It's a piece of good business for us, we have a player who now has approximately 1.5 years left on his contract so we have a saleable asset should things change like a new manager comes in who doesn't rate him.

Tony Everan
6 Posted 06/11/2023 at 08:25:17
It's a personal issue, I doubt Everton would get involved influencing either way.

Retiring from international football would have strengthened his bargaining position in the recent new contract negotiation.

It's good news for Everton, we need as strong a squad as possible through that busy winter period.

Ian Jones
7 Posted 06/11/2023 at 08:32:35
Tony, okay, I can see your point re strengthening his position regarding new contract. Makes sense but what happens if he then decides to come out of international retirement... I imagine there's a condition in his contract to cover that scenario?

I've sort of gone full circle with this and my previous comment re condition. Thought I'd add that in case people spot it. :)

Niall McIlhone
8 Posted 06/11/2023 at 09:46:55
Right now, Doucoure is a very important player in the system employed by the manager, he has influenced games this season, and last, and has scored very important goals. We don't have another player with his attributes at this point in time, so having him available during Afcon is a big boost.

For me, we have four current squad members who could potentially play in Doucoué's position, namely McNeil, Alli, Harrison and Danjuma. But for me, none of them have Doucoure's engine, whereas Onana and Garner can adequately cover Gana's position.

All that said, we are wafer thin for midfield cover should we incur injuries, and so the question of how both Alli and Gomes are reintegrated into the squad is a conundrum for Dyche? I suppose we should also consider whether Patterson or Young might be used in wide midfield when Coleman is match fit?

Lester Yip
9 Posted 06/11/2023 at 09:50:22
We definitely need his energy to cover ground fast both up and down. Good to know he's staying.
Sam Hoare
10 Posted 06/11/2023 at 10:03:16
Good news. We don't really have another player who can match his energy and dynamism in that position (maybe Garner at a push?).

I think that now means it is only Gana who will be missing during Afcon, and he does not seem to be in the starting XI at the moment anyway though I'd not be surprised to see injuries bite during a very busy December.

Joe McMahon
11 Posted 06/11/2023 at 10:20:24
Brilliant news!

And Sam, Gana shouldn't have come back. The Premier League is too fast for him, and we now also have Young.

Shane Corcoran
12 Posted 06/11/2023 at 13:08:10
“It's not a big, big decision because I went only one time for the Mali national team. I want to focus really on my career and on the club. I have all the respect for my country, but I am going to stay here.”

He really should have said nothing.

Jerome Shields
13 Posted 06/11/2023 at 13:36:02
Brian #4,

In Coleman's case, when asked last year at an interview, was he going to retire from International football, he was totally affronted and gave a sharp "No" answer that gave the impression he did not expect to be asked such a question. There was no follow-up question.

So you are right, he may be tired, but he will never retire. Gana may be the same. But I think that the Premier League is that competitive, they would both be better to retire and concentrate on their club careers.

Though it could be argued that game time is better than being at Finch Farm, as regards stamina and fitness

Martin Reppion
14 Posted 06/11/2023 at 23:43:43
Midfield is a real worry. But the Number 10 role which Doucoure fills so well has cover.

The hard work at the base of the midfield 3 is where we are weak. Only Gueye covers Onana's role here. Which is why it was so galling to see Ross Barkley give a master class in that position at the weekend.

Perhaps we have Young (who is surely finished as a right-back), Godfrey, maybe even Michael Keane, who could do a job. Don't laugh. Keane is a decent footballer. But this is an area we have to be looking for reinforcements in.

Mike Gaynes
15 Posted 07/11/2023 at 01:24:09
Martin, I'd say "master class" is an overstatement -- Barkley had the one good game in five that we could always count on when he was here, and which was a higher rate than he subsequently displayed in his six desolate years at Chelsea, Villa and Nice. This was his first quality performance for Luton. Any bets on when the next one will happen?

I'm not concerned about the base of the 3... if by some mischance both Onana and Gueye are out, I think Doucoure or Garner could fill in with work rate alone, certainly better than somebody playing out of position like Young or Godfrey.

What concerns me in midfield is overall depth -- if McNeil or Garner go down, we have no real replacement, and the only cover for Harrison is Patterson. That's where I believe Thelwell should devote his attention in January, not central defensive mid.

The Luton player I wish we still had is Townsend. For him to play as well as he did against Liverpool in his first Premier League start for 19 months was amazing. What a heart that guy has.

Jay Harris
16 Posted 07/11/2023 at 03:20:50
I was only thinking the same thing, Mike.

We paid his wages all through his injury and, when he was fit, we just let him go on a free while bringing in loan players (Harrison and Danjuma) while selling Richarlison and Gordon.

We are weak on the wings now and that has become apparent in the last few games.

Mike Gaynes
17 Posted 07/11/2023 at 04:02:01
Jay, no, that's not what I meant.

Townsend still wasn't fit at the time his contract ran out. He had summer trials in Burnley, Turkey and even a lower-level Saudi league team, with no offers. He finally got a call from Luton for a trial last month, and even then they only gave him a three-month contract. So you can't blame Everton for that decision.

No argument with selling Richarlison and Gordon either. We needed the £100 million more than we needed them. Richarlison has scored two league goals for Spurs in a year and a half, and Gordon looked like crap at the time.

And I don't think we're weak on the wings at all. Just thin on the bench where Townsend would be. It just wasn't possible.

Derek Thomas
18 Posted 07/11/2023 at 07:41:30
Mike @ 17; two ex-Everton players have good games vs the rs... I wonder why that was then?

People have asked; "What about Barkley coming back?" And some in Barkley's case might ask "Why isn't that level of effort there every week?"

Christy Ring
19 Posted 07/11/2023 at 13:45:53
Mike #15,

I know you're not a fan of Barkley, but to say he only had a ‘good game' considering he was Man of the Match?

In my opinion, he always looked for the ball, never hiding, and was one of our better performers. Koeman used him as a scapegoat.

I see where Mina made his debut for Fiorentina on Sunday, 51 days and 10 games since he signed, and some were disappointed we didn't give him a new contract?

Andrew Keatley
20 Posted 07/11/2023 at 14:41:28
Townsend can still do a job at Premier League level, and it would be a great story if he can be instrumental in helping Luton to finish outside the Bottom 3 while consigning Burnley to relegation.

Burnley are probably regretting their decision not to sign him; they lack players of Townsend's experience at Premier League level, and this notion that he would have blocked the progress of their younger players is maddening.

At a time when 16 footballers are very likely to get minutes come match-day Townsend would have been a great asset for them, and no doubt been a great support to those younger players.

For them not to see that and instead cross their fingers and hope that young players like Koleosho, Odobert, Tresor, Amdouni and Zaroury are all going to hit the ground running in their first season in the toughest league in the world – it's almost like Vincent Kompany forgot how it took him a couple of seasons to find his feet in the Premier League after he eventually moved from defensive midfield to centre-back.

I still think Townsend could do a job for us. Like Mike Gaynes says, Townsend has a big heart – and he has been a scorer of great goals throughout his career. He's an excellent professional who is extremely hard-working on the pitch, and has overcome off-the-field problems to become one of the best new crop of pundits.

I liked the way he dealt with being called an "ex-England" international by Seema Jaswal; something indefatigable about him. I'd say he's still got a few more big games in him, and I really hope he enjoys a good season with Luton.

Robert Tressell
21 Posted 07/11/2023 at 14:52:04
I agree with that, Andrew. Good player. I'd have had him back here certainly if anywhere near fit. Hard worker, good influence and probably more ability than I gave him credit for before he joined us.
Mike Gaynes
22 Posted 07/11/2023 at 17:05:29
Christy #19,

We've had good seasons and bad seasons since Barkley left, but in the six years since, I've never once missed him, or seen a performance from him in another shirt that made me wish we still had him.

Sunday was the first time in all those years -- after being benched/dumped by four clubs -- that I saw him really step up in a big game. Good for him, but with all that talent, what took him so long?

I think we all know the answer, and it's not scapegoating -- it's his own career-long inability to maintain a consistent level of performance. Koeman was (and is) a crap manager, but a half-dozen managers after him came to the same conclusion about Barkley.

Not sure who was disappointed that we didn't re-sign Mina. Certainly not me, not at his salary level. Nobody here was or is a bigger Mina admirer than me, and I wish him nothing but the best, but we couldn't afford him, and his departure gave space to a budding superstar in Branthwaite. We absolutely made the right decision.

Lee Courtliff
23 Posted 07/11/2023 at 19:32:54
Just had a quick look at how Lewis Warrington is getting on at Plymouth. He's only played 4 games this season, 2 in the League and 2 in the Cup without contributing any goals or assists.

I'm not sure if he's been injured or not but, either way, he's barely been used so far. If Gana Gueye is off in January then may as well recall Lewis, is possible, as we're going to need bodies.

I watched him play in pre-season at Bolton and thought he looked good but obviously wasn't deemed ready yet. Even though he hasn't had a great loan spell so far, just remember that neither did Anthony Gordon at Preston a few years ago!

Then again, we might just spend some money on a midfielder in January!

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