Abdoulaye Doucoure is an unheralded star for Watford
By Ben McAleer, WhoScored.com
Last Updated: 30/04/18 6:41pm
WhoScored.com explain why Abdoulaye Doucoure is one of the Premier League's most unheralded stars.
As the campaign draws to a close, attention will start turning towards the transfer market. And when the Premier League's big guns start assessing their options, they might look at a number of players plying their trade for teams lower down the table.
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha and Leicester's Riyad Mahrez have graced the gossip columns in recent months, but it's a Watford ace who should be high on clubs' wish-lists this summer.
No, not Richarlison, who impressed in the first half of the season before the dip in form which has seen him relegated to the bench by head coach Javi Gracia recently. Rather, Abdoulaye Doucoure is the player they should be keeping a watchful eye on.
The 25-year-old was signed from Rennes in 2016 before being loaned to Spanish outfit Granada. It took some time for Doucoure to consolidate a place at Watford after he joined up with them midway through last season, but once he made it into the starting line-up, it became impossible to drop him.
Despite a lack of continuity at Vicarage Road, Doucoure has been a standout star, with the midfielder scoring seven goals and registering two assists this season, helping him to a WhoScored.com rating of 7.01, the best of all Watford players to make more than five Premier League appearances.
Marco Silva sought to build his side around the Malian and Gracia has followed suit. While results have been unspectacular, Doucoure has been a consistent figure in the middle of the park, playing 3055 minutes of a possible 3150 and only missing one game - a 1-0 loss to Brighton back in December - due to suspension.
The Hornets have been grounded time and time again, particularly in their customary downturn in form in the second half of the season, but Doucoure has continued to show why he deserves to be playing for a team chasing European football rather than a mid-table outfit that is still in danger of being relegated.
The struggles of his team-mates have been a key reason why Watford are not yet safe from relegation, particularly as Doucoure has won possession in the midfield third more times (183) than any other player in the Premier League this season.
He also ranks highly at Watford for tackles per game (2.2) and interceptions per game (1.5), with his impact flying somewhat under the radar in England's top tier. Had Watford been performing better, or had Doucoure been playing for a team higher in the league, he would have been rightly lauded. Instead, his impact in the middle of the park has been overlooked compared to others.
Of course, winning the ball successfully and recycling possession are two key components for any central midfielder and Doucoure does both to an impressive standard. He is top for passes per game (60.9) of all Watford players, while his pass success rate of 83.5 per cent is second only to Roberto Pereyra (84.2 per cent) of all Hornets regulars this season.
Doucoure is a largely unheralded figure outside of Vicarage Road but that is not to say that he has gone completely unnoticed. Liverpool have been credited with an interest, as have Arsenal and tonight's opponents Tottenham.
Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs side are desperate to put three points on the board on Monday Night Football and end their three-match losing run at Wembley, but Doucoure will be eager to excel against one of the Premier League's top teams once more.
Three of his four best-rated WhoScored.com performances this season have come against Manchester United (8.45), Chelsea (8.21) and Liverpool (7.96). Under the lights at Wembley, the meeting with Tottenham is another opportunity for him to showcase his top-six credentials.
Up against a midfield containing Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele, Doucoure will have his work cut out in north-west London. But if he can get the better of the pair, then one of the Premier League's unheralded stars might move a step closer to joining one of the big guns.
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