Abdoulaye Doucoure was up against the omnipresent N’Golo Kante and the £40 million man Tiemoue Bakayoko as Watford welcomed Chelsea to Vicarage Road on Monday night.
But one Frenchman stole the show, and it was neither of those in Antonio Conte’s midfield. While Bakayoko’s debut season in English football hit rock bottom with two first-half bookings in the space of five minutes, Doucoure’s rise continued unabated.
He was simply sensational, the driving force behind a stunning 4-1 win that new Watford boss Javi Gracia described as ‘unforgettable’.
Not only did Doucoure win possession countless times and lead the Hornet’s swarming pressing game, he also started attacks and picked a number of perfectly weighted passes from his deep midfield position.
No wonder Watford fans were singing his praises on Twitter. And no wonder Tottenham Hotspur have been tipped to make a move for the former Rennes star at the end of the season.
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino was in the crowd on Monday and, according to the Daily Mail, was so impressed by Doucoure that he is planning to rival Liverpool and north London rivals Arsenal for one of the Premier League’s breakthrough stars.
It is understood that Watford would demand £20 million for their powerhouse midfielder, who even has seven league goals to his name this season. But Hornets fans think he is worth far more.
And with Spurs on the lookout for a long-term successor for Mousa Dembele, they should be prepared to pay top dollar.
Doucoure would get into any team at the moment with performances like that absolutely immense #WatfordFC— Holden (@Holden_WFC) February 5, 2018
If Bakayoko is worth £45m, then Doucoure is worth at least £60m. Simply superb from Doucs again today. Disciplined, won lots of tackles, did not stop running all game and drove us forward. Outstanding again. #WatfordFC— Watford FC Blog (@WatfordFCBlog) February 5, 2018
Have a hunch Abdoulaye Doucoure won't be at Watford FC for too long.— Lord of the Memes ⚽ (@dejazimako007) February 7, 2018
If Doucoure doesn't get a France call up before World Cup, then something seriously wrong with football. Forget #watfordfc player of season by country mile, has to be among Prem top five midfielders. Fans of top six all want him in their side and rightly so— Ben Perry (@benperry28) February 6, 2018
You were fantastic. Player of the season for me.— Paul Baker (@pbak63) February 6, 2018
You're unbelievable. Never leave Watford please— Ryan (@LGTSmiffy) February 6, 2018