By James Wood

28th Feb, 2021 | 12:53pm

'He was not on my list' - Ancelotti didn't want Doucoure at Everton initially

Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti has praised summer signing Abdoulaye Doucoure but admitted he wasn’t initially on his radar.

The Blues signed the Frenchman in a £20million deal from Watford in the summer of 2020, but not at the referral of Ancelotti.

It turns out that the Boss was hoping to sign Pierre-Emile Hojberg. Once he moved to Spurs, Director of Football Marcel Brands suggested Doucoure.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Ancelotti explained: “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.

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“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 really good, fresh, and has no problems at all.”

A force in the middle

Everton had been after Doucoure for a couple of years before he signed in the summer. He, along with James Rodriguez, Allan and Ben Godfrey have all been highly successful arrivals this season.

Doucoure, in particular, has gone a bit under the radar. The towering Frenchman has started all but one of the Toffees 24 Premier League matches. He’s been absent just once, due to a suspension.

This season, he’s scored twice in the top-flight and provided three assists. He starred in the 3-3 draw at Old Trafford, scoring and setting up another.

He’s been a dominant force in the middle of the park. Doucoure has completed 88.5% of passes successfully and won 52.8% of his duels [WyScout]. He’s an excellent carrier of the ball, 51.5% of his dribbles have been completed.

The Frenchman averages 3.89 interceptions and 8.12 recovers per 90 minutes. Perhaps he doesn’t have the flair of James, or intensity of Allan, but there is no denying his importance to this Everton side.

Despite not initially being on Ancelotti’s wish list, the Italian can ill-afford to pick an XI without him these days.

In other Everton news, Kevin Campbell predicts the winner of the clash with Southampton.