Player Spotlight: Abdoulaye Doucouré

Inevitably, the 2017/18 season has followed tradition of thrusting players into the daunting spotlight of this professional game. Young sensations up and down the country began developing their platform in Football, including the likes of surprisingly mature full backs Trent-Alexander Arnold and Ryan Sessegnon, (winger/full back) as well as countless lower league talent by example of Rúben Neves from Wolverhampton and James Maddison of Norwich.

For this particular focus, I aim to raise awareness of one of the best emerging talents this past season. He is a gem, a gem who is sharper than Jamie Vardy after several cans of Red Bull in fact. And whilst Doucouré is not quite a reincarnation of Mr. “He covers all the land” N’Golo Kante, the attacking arsenal embroidered in his mountainous stature creates little question as to why numerous clubs are attempting to secure his services.

Biography:

Aboulaye Doucouré is a 25 year old Premier League attacking specialist midfielder who plays for Watford, born in Meulan-en-Yvelines in northern-central France. He has played for French team and common European challengers Rennes, netting on his debut in a 0-2 victory over Stade brest. He stayed at the club for four years before moving to Watford on 2016 January deadline day, signing and venturing to Granada on a near four month loan. The following season he made his Watford breakthrough, although this season following an impressive 7 goals in 37 starts, the major plaudits have seemingly arrived at long last for the Frenchman.

Style of Play:

The Watford general has been entrusted to sit in a vast range of midfield positions throughout the 17/18 season. Most commonly instructed to take up the responsibilities of a mostly central (sometimes wide) defensive midfielder, showcasing his mountainous physicality and game intelligence, relentlessly intercepting onrushing attackers and distributing ambitious forward passes for promising counter attacks. His instinct rests on finding teammates in space on both flanks, spoilt for choice with the skilful Gerard Delofeu and Argentinian talent Roberto Pereyra. Doucouré’s passing range is so adventurous, he could even find Madelaine McCann in space on the wing. However, defensive responsibilities are too mainstream for Doucouré, occasionally transitioning into pockets of space in front of the opposing last line of defence. Going forward he is just as incredibly important for the London club, he covers every single blade of grass in the centre of the park which leads him to capitalise on plenty of opposition mistakes, he really is a living Hell to those building up from the back. Undoubtedly seen as the Watford’s very own Gandalf from both sides of the field. His 7 goals have mainly originated from poaching onto loose balls, something I put down to his incredible stamina and defensive Football brain.

Strengths:

  • Build: He is 6’0″ with a lean physique, albeit he doesn’t look the strongest but he more than holds his own in both the air and one on one vs attackers. He is also extremely flexible, adding to his ability to make complex tackles.
  • Stamina: Whilst a given essential for a top-flight midfielder, Doucouré boasts extremely desirable stamina as he can be anywhere he wants at any point in the match. From the first minute to the last he always has a massive impact on the game whenever he’s involved.
  • Intelligence: His incredible ability to read the game underlines him as a proven top-flight midfielder who can read most situations like it’s the back of his hand. He’s not on the level of Spanish talisman Andres Iniesta for example, but for a relatively young and developing midfielder, this is a fantastic quality to have.
  • Mentality: One of Doucouré’s more underrated side of his game is his composure when faced with a risky situation. Many times he has correctly judged passing situations in the face of pressure. Even though some of his passes are too ambitious, you’ve got to remember that humans play this game, nobody’s perfect! Funnily enough he is not the most tidy looking player but that’s only because he is busy adjusting to play a ball he saw seconds before anyone else.
  • Versatility: I’ve already mentioned his ability to play all over the park in central and sometimes wide midfield. The fact that he’s not a one dimensional player creates further incentive to use him in any situation Watford find themselves in.
  • Goal Range: Despite his love for picking up scraps and creating chances that way, he is more than capable of initiating shots on target from distance.

Weaknesses:

  • Discipline: I’m not remarking about yellow or red cards in this instance, instead I’m talking about his positional sense. It’s not uncommon for Doucouré to be caught way too far up the field, leading to plenty of shipped goals against the counterattack.
  • Strength: Despite his decent frame, he really should hit the gym. Opponents of all sizes find him easier to bully than selections of other central midfielders. He has the stamina of Luke Shaw in a pasty shop, yet has the strength of a tree branch.
  • Ball Control: He is a very lucky player in this regard as more often than not he wins the second balls back, although there have been occasions displaying his lack of close control. Not the tidiest of players on the ball.

What do you think of Abdoulaye Doucouré? I think that with his ability he could easily walk into the majority of Premier League teams, I though Doucouré to Liverpool was an effective signing before Fabinho’s arrival, a player possessing a similar playing style. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below and/or contact me on Twitter @D3cl8n if you wish.

About the Author

Declan Pridding
I am an aspiring sports journalist currently studying A levels. I am also a lifelong Wrexham AFC fan. #onourway #utst