Everton have completed the signing of midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure from Watford in a £20m deal.
The 27-year-old has signed a three-year deal at Goodison Park with the option of a further year and becomes the third major signing in four days following the arrivals of Colombia international James Rodriguez from Real Madrid and Brazil midfielder Allan from Napoli.
Watford had begun negotiations wanting £35m for the French midfielder, who scored 17 goals in 141 appearances during his four-year stay at Vicarage Road.
“I have been waiting a long time to come here and now it has happened so I am very happy,” Doucoure told the club’s website.
“I had some interest from other clubs but from the beginning when Everton showed an interest in me I told my agent to focus on Everton. It was the only club I wanted to join.
— Everton (@Everton) September 8, 2020
“Everton has a big history in English football and it is a good club for me to have a step up in my career. I am very happy now to be an Everton player and very excited for the future.
“It is an ambitious project here and it was a big part of my decision, having [Director of Football] Marcel [Brands] and the coach Carlo Ancelotti wanting me.”
Doucoure will wear the shirt number 16 at Goodison Park, which has been vacant since James McCarthy left the club for Crystal Palace a year ago.
The 27-year-old declared himself “ready” for Everton’s Premier League opener at Tottenham on Sunday.
“From the first day I spoke to the manager [Ancelotti], he said straight away where I can improve,” said Doucoure.
“What I am good on, where I can get better – so, of course, since the beginning, I knew he could improve me. He wants me to play a box-to-box role in the midfield. I think it is my best position.
“I can bring my energy to the team… I am a powerful player, I can run a lot, all the game. I can add goals as well. I will try my best to score goals and help the team. I want to win some trophies.”
Analysis: Doucoure the missing midfield piece?
Sky Sports’ Ron Walker…
It’s long been apparent where Carlo Ancelotti felt Everton’s shortcomings most needed addressing – the engine room.
With James Rodriguez and Allan already through the door, Ancelotti has a new creative outlet and a ball winner, and in Doucoure, a man to link both too.
The Frenchman has long been admired at Watford and though like many of his team-mates his form dipped en route to relegation last season, his energy, drive and technical ability can prove a huge advantage for his new side.
Doucoure was often deployed as a number 10 at Vicarage Road towards the end of his Hornets career but has flourished best in a box-to-box role, with the physicality to harry without the ball and the technique to thrive on it.
He can get the Toffees out of tight spaces with ball retention one of his best assets, but he has plenty going forward too. Doucoure is always a goal threat when he gets around the 18-yard box and has a range of passing which will help keep Ancelotti’s side on the front foot.
In 2018/19, when he played a major role in Watford’s 11th-placed finish, he ranked 21st across the division for ball recoveries but also 26th for completed final-third passes.
If Ancelotti was concerned about a lack of legs in midfield among options including Morgan Schneiderlin, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Andre Gomes, his three additions this summer have more than addressed that issue, and Doucoure will bring a lot more than just energy to the heart of his midfield.
How James and Allan could shine in Everton midfield
South American football expert Tim Vickery:
“Allan is a Brazilian midfielder who is one of those players that coaches tend to rate more than fans. He’s a problem-solver. When Brazil first called him up the coach there said ‘Allan? He hasn’t got feet he’s got wheels’.
“And what he meant by that is he just gets around the field, he sees the gaps, he plugs the gaps, he links the lines. He’s a problem solver who will help your team function. Perhaps he does not offer a great deal on the ball but he has the dynamism to get around the field.
“The one to be excited about is James Rodriguez, the breakout star of the 2014 World Cup – that player is still there. He was only 22 then, he’s 29 now and it almost feels like his career has been stalled ever since. A victim of stockpiling, there’s only so many players that can be important in the Real Madrid line-up.
“James is a very, very classy player, perhaps not quick enough, not with the express pace to fit into the Real Madrid system.
“At Everton he has got everything he wants. He has got a coach who knows him well and admired and respects him, and Ancelotti worked with him in his best season at Real Madrid as well, his first season, and also took him to Bayern on loan.”
Transfer Centre LIVE!
All the latest news, analysis and rumours from the window in one place.
The summer transfer window will run for 10 weeks from July 27 and close at 11pm on October 5.
A domestic-only window for trades between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on Sky Sports News and across Sky Sports’ digital platforms, including with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.