Premier League

Chelsea shouldn't get sucked into Doucouré rumour roundabout

 • by Mark Thompson
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Abdoulaye Doucouré has been linked with Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and now Chelsea within the span of a couple of months.

There are two conclusions you can draw from this. One is that the 26-year-old Frenchman is very good. The other is that he has a chatty agent.

Or both things might be true.

Doucouré is certainly an interesting mix of features. Watford’s midfield anchor is on the fringes of the top third of Premier League midfielders for tackles, successful take-ons, and touches inside the opposition box.

Stylistically, Football Whispers’ model highlights that he’s similar to Paul Pogba, albeit more defensive.

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Doucouré is a true box-to-box player, able to break up attacks, progress the ball up the field, and make well-timed runs into the box to finish off moves. He was Watford’s top-scorer last season with seven goals, although that tells you as much about the Hornets’ attack as it does the midfielder.

But how well would this actually translate to Chelsea, the latest club whose grain is being ground through the transfer rumour mill?

Probably not very.

Defending is one of Doucouré’s best skills, but at Chelsea he’d encounter the same problem as N’Golo Kanté in that regard — the usual ‘defensive midfield’ spot is already filled by Jorginho.

His role at Watford seems more transferable to one of the other central midfield roles than Kanté’s game does. And the position that Doucouré is already playing is quite similar to the one that his compatriot has been tasked with this season.

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However, a certain style of play doesn’t mean that it’s being executed well. There have been questions all season about Kanté’s suitability to his current position and there could be over Doucouré’s as well.

His touch when he’s on the ball doesn’t quite seem good enough for a team that values high levels of possession like Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea. Doucouré may also dribble, but a lot of them seem to end in him running into someone.

And that is a shame because he can pull off subtle assists in the final third, which was evident against both Burnley and Newcastle United earlier in the campaign.

So maybe Doucoure would be worth a punt for Chelsea, although the price that Watford are likely to quote, around £50million, probably takes him out of ‘worth a punt’ territory.

But this rumour, coming off the back of being linked with each of the other big London clubs? A cynic would say that it sounds like someone, somewhere in the chain, would like a pay rise.

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