Abdoulaye Doucoure has told EvertonTV that simple advice from Rafa Benitez in training has helped the Everton midfielder to improve in every aspect of his game this season.
Benitez took charge at Goodison Park in June to replace Carlo Ancelotti, who stood at the helm on Doucoure’s arrival. The Italian, whose Real Madrid side lost to Sheriff Tiraspol, was not behind the Frenchman’s £20m transfer from Watford, however.
Ancelotti admitted in March, via Goal, that Doucoure was on the club’s list of targets, and listened to Director of Football Marcel Brands’ advice when agreeing to make a move last year. A wise decision, in the end, with the 28-year-old proving an instant hit on Merseyside.
Doucoure started all 29 of his Premier League outings under Ancelotti and Everton were visibly weaker while he was injured. Yet the midfielder has taken his performances to an even higher standard under Benitez after six games into his tenure.
The £75k-a-week box-to-box dynamo has already scored twice and assisted three top-flight goals this season. Matching his return for the entire 2020/21 campaign in just 20 per cent of the appearances.
Doucoure puts his improvements down to the work Benitez has done with him in training since taking over at Everton. With even the smallest of nuggets from the Spaniard helpful.
“I am very happy with the games I’ve played this season and I am learning with the manager every day,” Doucoure said.
“Everything changed in my game and my understanding of the game improved. The manager gave me a lot of advice – simple advice that makes a difference – and I try to take that on the pitch and help the team as much as I can.”
Doucoure fulfilling Benitez demands at Everton
Benitez’s methods at Finch Farm have clearly made an impact on Doucoure, judging by his performances over Everton’s early fixtures. The midfielders’ improved goal threat also suggests he is fulfilling the Spaniard’s expectations.
“We talked about scoring more goals,” Doucoure told The Times earlier this month. “Going forward, playing very simple when I regain the ball and how to use my technical abilities to improve the team. He wants me to be a leader, as well.”
Doucoure has offered Everton a strong and composed option when transitioning possession so far this season with his precise through-balls. Adding far more to his game than the hard-work, hard runs he made throughout last season.