'Any Manager Would Want Influential Allan'

Midfielder Allan boasts the skill, intelligence and physicality to flourish in Premier League football – and can be relied on to always “fight for the Everton shirt”.

That is the view of Andrea Stramaccioni, who was Udinese boss during a pivotal season in Allan’s career and insists any manager would want the Brazilian in his team.

Italian Stramaccioni led Udinese in 2014/15 when Allan coupled his renowned ball-winning – he made 124 tackles, the most of any player in Europe’s traditional top-five leagues – with renewed attacking zest.

Allan, who transferred to Everton from Napoli prior to this season, left Rio de Janeiro club Vasco da Gama for Udinese in 2012.

He was joined at the Serie A team two years later by Stramaccioni, who had formerly been in charge at Inter Milan.

“Allan immediately impressed me because of his hardworking attitude,” Stramaccioni told evertonfc.com.

“He was pushing 110 per cent in every training session.

“Sometimes too much and I calmed him down a little bit to manage his energy during the week.

“His character was always positive, whatever the circumstances, he didn’t change.

“He grew up a lot in that season [2014/15], playing differently from his previous seasons in Italy.

“I moved him 15-20 metres up the field, changing his mentality to focus on recovering the ball higher – and joining our counter-attack to try to be more effective with scoring and assists.

“He made a big improvement. He was playing as a number eight, a box-to-box midfielder, adding offensive support to the team, without losing his best ability: recovering balls.

“Everyone started to talk about him after we won against Inter Milan (2-1 away in December 2014) and drew at home with champions Juventus (0-0 in February 2015), when he was man of the match with a superb performance against Paul Pogba and Andrea Pirlo.”

Allan was 23 and – despite a role in Brazil’s 2011 Under-20 World Cup success – waiting for his first senior international recognition when Stramaccioni replaced Francesco Guidolin at Udinese.

Stramaccioni – who first encountered Allan as an opponent when managing Inter in 2012/13 – inherited an Udinese squad very well-off for experience and captained by striker and club totem Antonio Di Natale.

Allan was among a group of emerging stars, also featuring current Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes and Alex Meret, the accomplished goalkeeper now with Napoli and capped by Italy last year.

“Allan was young but clever,” says Stramaccioni.

“He was motivated and always at the team’s service. He learned a lot from the experienced players.

“I used to talk mostly with the younger ones – Allan, Bruno Fernandes and Meret – because Serie A is very tough and they needed it.

“So many times, we shared our tactical plan for the midfield with Allan and he was always very smart and fast in understanding the strategy I wanted to set.

“When we met Udinese in my first season with Inter Milan he was playing as an anchor man in front of the defence, giving balance to the whole team.

“He was young and full of energy. Stealing balls was his best skill at that time

“I strongly recommended for our number 10 to move from the central part where Allan was patrolling.

“He is positive, a hard worker, serious outside the pitch but always smiling.

“Success didn’t change his behaviour.

“His family and mentality gives him the power to be what he is.

“Every manager would be happy with a player like him.

“And, I think, in modern football there are fewer and fewer of these kinds of players.”

Stramaccioini confesses to an additional reason beyond his close relationship with the player for wanting Allan to flourish at Goodison Park.

Growing up, his favourite team outside Italy – he was born in Rome and supports AS Roma – was Everton and Stramaccioni has retained his affection for the Club.

“The first season I fully followed Everton was with Neville Southall, Andrei Kanchelskis, Anders Limpar, Paul Rideout and Co,” he says.

And in Allan, who turns 30 in January, Stramaccioni reckons his English team own a footballer custom-made for Premier League combat.

“He is a high-rate player, he never gives up and fights until the end,” says Stramaccioni, who has managed Greek club Panathinaikos, Sparta Prague in Czech Republic and Iranians Esteghlal since leaving Udinese.

“His best skills are still stealing the ball and winning tackles.

“But he has improved a lot in supporting the attack and finishing.

“I pushed him a lot in training and mentally about this.

“He had to be more effective in the attacking phase because of his quality.

“He improved game by game and reached a very high level.

“At the end of the season he was attracting offers from the best Italian and international clubs.”

Allan duly switched to Napoli where he had five years before reuniting with Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti, who managed the player for one-and-a-half seasons at the Stadio San Paolo.

The South American, currently with his national team for a pair of World Cup qualifying matches, has started and finished seven of Everton’s eight Premier League games this term.

He has made more tackles (32) than any other player in the division and following Everton’s opening-day win at Tottenham Hotspur was described by centre-back Michael Keane as a “defender’s dream”.

“The Premier League is a big challenge for any player and mostly for foreigners,” adds Stramaccioni.

“Everton is such a big and historical club and Carlo is a master.

“I’m very happy Allan had such positive start and impact, because it wasn’t easy at all.

“Everton fans will always see a player fighting for his shirt and giving 110 per cent for them – and I am sure that is what Toffees supporters are looking for from their players.

“I wish for Allan, for Carlo and for Everton, too, to have the best success possible, because they deserve it.”


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