'The interest was serious' - Everton hero had no desire to leave after January transfer window approach

Abdoulaye Doucoure and Amadou Onana of Everton in action during the Premier League match between Everton FC and Aston Villa at Goodison Park on January 14, 2024 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
Abdoulaye Doucoure and Amadou Onana in action during the Premier League match between Everton and Aston Villa at Goodison Park on January 14, 2024 -Credit:Visionhaus/Getty Images

Abdoulaye Doucoure said he felt no temptation toward interest in him during the January transfer window because of his commitment to Everton.

The midfielder was the subject of attention for Al-Ettifaq, the Saudi Arabia Pro League side managed by Steven Gerrard. Gerrard had just seen Jordan Henderson depart and Doucoure was targeted as part of efforts to bolster the team. But for the 31-year-old, leaving the Blues was not an option.

Reflecting on the transfer window, which opened as he dealt with a hamstring injury - the first of two that would blight the middle third of his and Everton’s season - Doucoure said: “The interest was serious but to be honest it was never my concern because I had just signed a new deal. The club wanted me to stay and I wanted to stay here. To leave in the middle of the season, I wouldn't do that. I was very happy to stay.”

MICHAEL BALL: I would speak up if I disagreed with the manager - Everton players should do the same to Sean Dyche

READ MORE: Everton new stadium: Major landmark reached as pitch preparation begins

Doucoure had signed a 12-month extension in November - his second new contract in 2023 and one that confirmed his place on Merseyside until at least June 2025. It came after his own form had picked up along with Everton’s. After a slow start to the campaign, Doucoure had just added to his strike at Sheffield United with goals in the wins over Brentford and Bournemouth. In the following weeks further celebrations would follow his goals in wins over Crystal Palace, Chelsea and Newcastle United.

Putting pen to paper on a new deal was a far cry from where he started the year - on the outside of Frank Lampard’s plans. Lampard’s departure led to the appointment of Sean Dyche, a switch Doucoure credits with changing his career. Dyche selected the former Watford player for his first game in charge, a morale-boosting home win over Arsenal, and Doucoure repaid his faith by emerging as a goal-scoring threat who was central to most of the defining moments in the Blues’ run to safety.

That was secured with Doucoure’s memorable strike against Bournemouth on the final day of the season - the goal that kept Everton in the Premier League. It was a moment that means he is now more widely recognised and his name is written in club folklore. How the rest of his career unfolds remains to be seen, but he stressed: “ I do know that the special relationship I have with Everton will be forever and is something I'm very happy with.”

That affection for the club is what has made the team’s recent struggles so difficult to take - particularly during late December and January, when the start of a club-record 13 winless Premier League games coincided with his absence.

Doucoure said: “It was very frustrating because I've not had too many injuries. This one hurt me and I lost six or seven games in the Premier League. So it was very difficult for me not playing and helping the team because I know my contribution and what I can do for the team. I tried to rush back and unfortunately picked up another leg injury so it was difficult, particularly because we didn't win a game… hopefully in the next couple of games I can show my quality and help the team.”