Everton New Midfield Three Should Propel Them to New Heights This Season

05 September 2020 05:42

Only the most stone-hearted of football fans struggle to feel a bit of sympathy for Everton's plight over the past few seasons.

Toffees fans have continually been promised the world by its ambitious ownership, only to be forced to endure the frighteningly dull football of Sam Allardyce, then the rage-inducing set-piece disasterclass headed up by Marco Silva.

It's not just in the managerial stakes that Everton misfired. The club also employed a woeful transfer strategy. Expensive arrivals Yannick Bolasie, Alex Iwobi and Theo Walcott have so far all failed to justify their hefty price tags, but it has been in midfield where the Toffees' recruitment missteps have been most pointed.

Underwhelming midfielders have passed through a revolving door at Goodison Park with concerning regularity. Morgan Schneiderlin (£20m), Gylfi Sigurdsson (£45m!), Davy Klaassen (£24m), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (£22.5m) and Fabian Delph (£8.5m) have been recruited for a combined £120m over the past three season, yet Everton look no closer to breaking into that illusive top six.

Enter Carlo Ancelotti. AKA: Carlo Magnifico. AKA: Carlo Fantastico.

The legendary Italian manager joined Everton just in time for the club's Christmas party last year, bringing his wealth of incredible transfer contacts with him. Part of Ancelotti's remit is restructuring the Toffees' beleaguered playing squad and after a quiet start he has pulled not one, not two but three rabbits out the hat recently.

The Toffees have already announced the arrival of Napoli stalwart Allan and all things being well, Watford midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure and Real Madrid's James Rodriguez should also be unveiled soon.

When Ancelotti arrived at the club, this trio of signings is exactly the sort of smart recruitment Everton fans were expecting.

What exactly will the Toffees' new Big Three bring though?

In Allan, Everton possess one of the most revered ball winners of the past decade. No player made completed more tackles or registered a greater number of successful pressures in Serie A during the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons.

He would have been in a far better position to defend his crown as Italy's most tenacious central midfielder last campaign, if a string of niggling injuries hadn't restricted him to just 23 appearances.

Even amid a spate of fitness problems, Allan still racked up just shy of four tackles per 90 minutes during the 2019/20 campaign. The addition of the 29-year-old will add even more bite to a side who completed the fourth most tackles in the league last season.

Allan's skill set will likely complement Doucoure nicely. Like the former Napoli man, Doucoure is an extremely impressive presser. Although Watford struggled badly last season - eventually succumbing to relegation - the Frenchman still performed well, particularly after the arrival of Nigel Pearson.

His 238 successful pressures was the fourth highest in the Premier League, just one place behind the imperious Wilfred Ndidi. Doucoure is also far more comfortable in the advance areas of midfield than Allan.

He racked up 80 shot-creating actions last season, a figure only bested by Gerard Deulofeu in the Hornets' squad. This also represented an increase on the previous two campaigns, suggesting that the midfielder is becoming more and more accomplished going forward.

It seems then, that in Doucoure and Allan, Ancelotti has assembled a double pivot that should make Everton's midfield tough to bypass while also possessing enough creative ingenuity to cause the opposition some problems.