Study the evidence at hand and you’d be entitled to conclude Allan feeds off expectation.
The number 5 Allan favours on his jersey is a visible nod to the midfielder’s footballing hero, the exceptional Falcao, who was at the hub of perhaps Brazil’s most revered national team in 1982 and a league championship winning colleague of Carlo Ancelotti at Roma.
The player Allan seeks to replicate with his tenacious, mobile, implacable style? Dunga, Brazail’s acclaimed 1994 World Cup-winning midfielder, formerly considered an outlier as a defensive mind in a team full of inventive brains.
The impression of Dunga (below) as a prosaic presence in a team of artists was unfair. He had excellent close control, passed the ball progressively and accurately and had a decent goal return when playing in a Serie A where defence still ruled.
Equally, Allan has far more than your common-or-garden ‘sitter’ in midfield.
Maurizio Sarri recognised the player’s breadth of qualities after taking him to Napoli from Udinese in 2015.
The headlines around Allan at the time related to his incredible ball-winning prowess.
He was fresh from a season when he’d won 124 tackles – 43 more than any other Serie A player and a total unsurpassed in Europe’s top-five leagues.
“Allan… has great dynamism, excellent interception skills and a decent level of quality, he's a complete player,” said Sarri, newly in the managerial post at Napoli.
High praise indeed but perhaps the omission of any mention of Allan’s attacking smarts tweaked the player’s tail.
He created a goal for Gonzalo Higuain on his Napoli debut, then scored on his second appearance.
In his third game, he contributed a goal and an assist to a 5-0 drubbing of Lazio.
Allan settled equally promptly with Udinese after leaving Brazil as a 21-year-old – scarcely 12 months after a role in his country claiming the Under-20 World Cup in Colombia.
It was a move which required the player to conform to character and back himself.
A deal of South American footballers opt for a more circumspect route into Europe, testing the water in a league whose profile doesn’t match those in Italy and England.
It is an understandable move, allowing for an adaptation process and the chance to iron out kinks without round-the-clock scrutiny.
Falcao went all-in, going from Internacional to Roma. One of Italy’s lesser lights, Pisa, was the destination for Dunga when he left Vasco da Gama.
That pair were 26 and 23 respectively when they moved abroad.
Allan was making the leap young and wholly aware that should he not cut it at the first time of asking, his European ambitions would probably be cooked.
Stutter at Udinese and Napoli don’t come banging on your door, for instance.
As it was, Allan didn’t put a foot wrong in his first Italian season, immediately becoming an Udinese mainstay and galvanising the team to eight straight wins at the end of the campaign to finish fifth and achieve European qualification.
The player’s wining mentality – “I want to win every game and every tackle,” he once said – was formed with Vasco da Gama.
One of the four giant clubs of Rio de Janeiro, Allan’s vast Brazilian birthplace, Vasco took the player from lowly Madureira in the city, via a non-playing loan in Uruguay with Deportivo Maldonado.
In the same 2009 year Allan made his senior professional debut aged 18 for Vasco he was celebrating a Serie B title with the team.
With the formidable Allan instrumental, Vasco expertly acquitted themselves back in the top-flight and, in 2011, were cup winners and Serie A runners-up.
The player provided a healthy 13 assists in his three seasons with Udinese but waited until his third season to find the net – scoring in a cup game against Cesena to add to the goal he struck for Vasco when the Brazilians demolished Bolivian team Aurora 8-3 to emphatically overhaul a first-leg deficit in a Copa Sudamericana [South America’s Europa League equivalent] last-16 tie.
Indeed, in his final season with Udinese, the majority of Allan’s plaudits continued to be reserved for his ability to suffocate opponents.
He broke the heart of Paul Pogba in a draw with Juventus, tackling, chasing and running the Frenchman into submission.
Udinese manager Andrea Stramaccioni was at pains to avoid a direct comparison with Pogba post-match but did say, “… I want to underline the excellent performance of Allan – who I feel is one of the best midfielders in Europe…”.
Allan’s energy, passing range and dribbling notwithstanding, it was a clip of the player, body tensed, clenching both fists and roaring after winning a tackle, which had Evertonians gushing on social media as speculation mounted over a potential transfer.
Trying to get Allan out of Udinese was a desperately tricky task for Napoli, who concluded weeks of horse trading by agreeing to send circa €10m plus bonuses, Duvan Zapata and Miguel Britos, who would immediately switch to Watford on loan, to northeastern Italy in return for their target.
Allan flourished under Sarri and by popular consent was one of Serie A’s standout midfielders in his opening season as Napoli finished second to reach the Champions League.
He was raising expectations purely by dint of performances and consistently surpassing them.
A fine second campaign – Allan was integral as Napoli progressed from their Champions League group, ended third in Serie A and made the Coppa Italia semi-finals – was followed by a personal and collective annus mirabilis.
Allan featured in every Serie A match in 2017/18, scoring four goals and assisting another four, as Napoli won 28 and drew seven of 38 games to amass 91 points and push perennial champions Juventus to the wire.
Brazil manager Tite was watching closely and, finally, bowed to public demand by selecting the player in November 2018.
In the opinion of scores of observers it was a belated call and Allan has busily been making up for lost time.
He made his first Brazil start four days after coming off the bench for a debut and was in the squad for last year’s Copa America success on home soil, beginning a tight quarter-final against Paraguay in place of suspended Real Madrid star Casemiro and playing as a substitute in the final victory over Peru.
Meantime, Allan had come under the tutelage of Carlo Ancelotti in Naples.
“Working with Ancelotti is the best, he is a coach who has won a lot and trained many champions,” said Allan, deep into his first pre-season with the Italian manager.
“He knows how to make the most of every player.”
The pair were runners-up to familiar foe Juventus in their one full campaign together. Of 61 matches Allan played for Ancelotti, he won 34 and drew 14.
Strip away secondary competitions and of 53 games in Serie A and the Champions League, the duo’s record together reads handsomely: 30 wins, 14 draws and only nine defeats.
There was a stretch where they lost only one Serie A game in 15, two Champions League slugfests with Paris Saint-Germain ended all-square and a couple of victories over Liverpool were achieved in the same competition.
Not many pundits would have predicted those outcomes.
But the spirited Allan, who marries the best of Brazilian flair and ambition and European industry, makes a virtue of exceeding expectations.