Abdoulaye Doucoure admits he is fighting for recognition as a top-class footballer every time he steps on the field.
Midfielder Doucoure is revelling in additional freedom granted by Rafa Benitez and fast becoming one of Everton’s primary attacking threats.
He has four assists and two goals from seven Premier League matches this season.
The Frenchman brilliantly set-up Andros Townsend to score an equaliser at Manchester United a fortnight ago and there was a pass to release Demarai Gray for a goal against Burnley last month that any of the Premier League’s leading technicians would have been proud to call their own.
Those assists sandwiched a strike to wrap up three points against Norwich City in Everton’s most recent Goodison Park fixture.
Doucoure is still waiting for his first senior international cap and has spoken of being underrated in some quarters.
The 28-year-old addressed that subject in an exclusive interview with the Club’s matchday programme for Sunday’s Premier League meeting with West Ham United.
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“This is my main motivation every time I go on the pitch, to show people I am a good footballer and capable of great things," said Doucoure.
“I know some people will not like my style of play.
“But I have to play hard and work very hard to show I am a good player.
“When you have confidence and freedom, you can do a lot of good things.
“They were top-class assists against Burnley and United and other players doing the same would receive more publicity.
“But I had a lot of praise this season.
“I am happy with that… and need to stay focused.”
Doucoure contributed three assists and two goals from 29 Premier League matches in his debut season with the Club following a transfer from Watford last summer.
He was enormously influential in a deep-lying position – Everton’s European hopes were essentially extinguished during Doucoure’s two-month absence towards the end of the campaign – but forced to keep a lid on his own creative potential.
“I was a little bit sacrificed in that system – but I showed a couple of times I could score,” continued Doucoure.
“And this season, everyone can see I am able to provide assists as well.
“So, yes, it was a bit frustrating last season.
“I wanted to show I could score goals.
“The midfielders have to score five or six a season and I couldn’t to do it
“But I sacrificed myself for the team. I made a lot of recoveries and defended well in midfield. It was like that.
“Sometimes, you have to just listen to the manager and play how he wants.”
Doucoure has detected a number of positive changes since the appointment of Spanish manager Benitez.
In his programme interview, he talks honestly about what was “missing” last season and reveals a united desire to usher out the idea of Everton as a team of “nice guys”.
There is insight into the significant meeting staged after defeat at Manchester City on the final day of last season, too.
Additionally, in Black History Month, Doucoure outlines the depressing reasons for reserving his social media accounts entirely for football.
In the first instance of its kind, an individual was jailed last month for aiming online racial abuse at then West Bromwich Albion player Romaine Sawyers.
“It is to protect my family and myself,” said Doucoure of ensuring a divide between his personal and professional lives.
“There are some very good things about social media – but in other ways it is very bad, especially at the moment.
“There is a lot of racism and hate.
“People can hate me and my football but I don’t want them to touch my family and kids.
“So, I separate my football and private life.
“I have received comments on social media but didn’t report them.
“This kind of thing [offender sent to prison] will encourage players to report abuse.
“But there is still a long way to go, every week you see racist abuse.
“And we need to keep working on it and speaking about it.”
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