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Everton have found considerable value in a £20 million ($28m) deal for Abdoulaye Doucoure, but Carlo Ancelotti admits a bargain buy was not on his summer recruitment “list” at Goodison Park.
While they brought energy and flair to the fold, Ancelotti was eager to add greater steel to this Toffees side and heeded the advice of director of football Marcel Brands when it came to targeting Doucoure.
Ancelotti told reporters ahead of a Premier League meeting with Southampton on Monday: “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.”
The Everton boss added: “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 still really good, fresh, and has no problems at all.”
The 28-year-old has been one of the first names on Ancelotti’s team sheet in 2020-21.
He has started all but one of Everton’s 24 Premier League games this season, with only an untimely suspension preventing him from being an ever-present.
Three goals and as many assists have been contributed to the collective cause by the highly-rated Frenchman, but his main job is to contain the threat posed by opposition attackers.
Everton handed the hard-working midfielder a three-year deal upon his arrival on Merseyside.
That agreement includes the option for a further 12-month extension, which could take him through to the summer of 2024.
Doucoure, who had been linked with moves to Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain when catching the eye at Watford, will expect that clause to be triggered if he maintains the standards being set at present.