Abdoulaye Doucoure says he is coming to Everton on the cusp of the peak years of his career – and relishing the opportunity of a “step up” at Goodison Park.
Frenchman Doucoure signed a three-year deal on Tuesday – with a Club option for a fourth season – outlining his desire to pen a new chapter in Everton’s “big history”.
The 27-year-old, who declared himself “ready” to feature at Tottenham Hotspur if selected when Everton open their Premier League campaign on Sunday, played 129 top-flight games in four seasons with Watford.
Doucoure becomes Everton’s third high-profile acquisition in four days – following Allan and James Rodriguez into Goodison – and shares the excitement swelling around the Club.
He echoed his fellow new arrivals’ views on Carlo Ancelotti, insisting the prospect of working for Everton's Italian manager was a significant draw when weighing up his future.
“I have been waiting a long time to come here and now it has happened so I am very happy,” Doucoure told evertontv.
“I am so excited to start.
“I feel at the top of my career at the moment. Mentally, physically, I feel at my best.
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WATCH: DOUCOURE'S EXCLUSIVE FIRST INTERVIEW
“I think Everton is the right place now to have a step up and to keep progressing.
“And with the manager and the team we’ve got, I think I have plenty of time to progress.
“With Mr Ancelotti here it is a good choice for me.
“I am very excited about the project, we are bringing new players like James and Allan.
“I want to be part of that project.
“Everton has a big history in English football.
“When I heard the names of Allan and James joining Everton it was even more exciting to come.
“I did everything in my power to come here as soon as possible.
“It has been a long time [negotiating the transfer this summer] and I am happy to come here in this exciting moment.”
Doucoure scored 17 Premier League goals and assisted 12 during his stay at Vicarage Road.
He moved to England in February 2016, leaving Rennes, the club where Doucoure advanced through the youth programme to become a mainstay.
The player had a productive three-month loan with Spanish La Liga team Granada immediately after switching to Watford, returning to Vicarage Road in time for 2016/17.
Doucoure progressively established a reputation as an all-action midfielder, blessed with tremendous technique and endurance.
“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.
“We want to win as many games as possible – I think that is the main target of the Club.
“After, when the season gets going, we will see where we can finish.
“But, of course, the Club wants to play in Europe. That is the main ambition this year and we are going to fight for it.”
Doucoure, who will reunite with Everton forward Richarlison after the pair had a season together with Watford, played at Goodison four times for his former club – he scored at the ground in a 2-2 draw in December 2018.
He will begin life as an Everton player behind closed doors but is already anticipating the thrill of having a partisan Goodison on his side.
“I can’t wait, like all the players, to have fans back in the stadiums,” continued Doucoure.
“I have played at Goodison and it was very good.
“I have scored here and I hope I can now score here for Everton.
“And, of course, the stadium is very nice, the atmosphere was amazing and I can’t wait to start to play at Goodison.
“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.
“I am very happy now to be an Everton player and very excited for the future.
“I spoke to Richarlison last month.
“He said to me I needed to come, that I need to play again with him.
“It was a very kind message from him and I am very happy to join this team.”
Images of Doucoure joining Ancelotti and the South American pair of James and Allan at a restaurant last week created a stir as anticipation grew over Everton’s potential transfer business.
And the player confirmed what most people suspected: Ancleotti is indeed a fabulous dinner companion.
“It was great,” confirmed Doucoure.
“He is an amazing person, an amazing guy.
“It was very good to have dinner with him – with James and Allan, as well. We started to know each other.
“I was very impressed by the manager and, most of all, by the person
“We talk most of the time about football but, a lot of the time at the dinner, we spoke about life, about how I am doing, how my life is, if I have a wife, children.
“It was very good and we had a great dinner together.
“I can’t wait to start to work with him on the pitch.
“He won everything, everywhere he was.
“Now he is here and wants to achieve something good for the Club.”