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Abdoulaye Doucoure may yet be worth the wait for Watford

Due to Watford's significant turnover of players and the club's revolving door policy to recruitment, a series of talents have passed through Vicarage Road in recent seasons without making much of an impact.

Abdoulaye Doucoure, signed from Stade Rennais in February 2016, but immediately sent out on loan to Granada, had looked destined to be yet another anonymous player to come and go at the Hertfordshire outfit without really demonstrating his qualities.

However, when handed his opportunity by new coach Marco Silva against Liverpool on Saturday, the powerful Franco-Malian midfielder grabbed his chance and delivered the kind of performance that will ensure that he stands out amidst the many foreign imports to have turned out for the Hornets under the Pozzo regime.

The 24-year-old's performance was capped off by a goal, a 32nd-minute strike to immediately hand the home side the lead after Sadio Mane had cancelled out Stefano Okaka's opener, but he made contributions across the park to suggest that he can be a key asset for Watford this term.

Operating in the heart of the midfield in Silva's 4-3-3 formation, Doucoure offered the kind of imposing display that had begun to become norm during the latter stages of his tenure in France.

The muscular midfielder is a considerable presence, and won 100 percent of his aerial duels on the day, offering protection for the backline and helping ease the pressure when Liverpool sought a more direct approach.

Playing alongside six-foot Nathaniel Chalobah, and with Etienne Capoue another option off the bench, there won't be too many teams who can outmuscle or outbattle Watford in the midfield this season.

Yet Doucoure is not some anchor man or one-dimensional midfield destroyer, indeed, no one on the park made more touches or completed more passes than the Ile-de-France-born player in Saturday's match.

While his goal owed a lot to some dismal Liverpool defending, it wasn't the first time that he'd charged forward in support of the attack and sought to arrive late in the box to make a decisive intervention.

But his offensive contribution overall was excellent, with the playmaker completing three dribbles - as many as any player on the pitch, and more than both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane - and creating two chances - again a joint-game high.

This was the kind of performance that Doucoure had begun to demonstrate would be possible at the tail end of last term, as all around him appeared to lose their form, while he also impressed in preseason with the kind of measured midfield management that should help the Hornets against some of their lesser opponents.

Doucoure is not yet the finished article - there are reasons why Walter Mazzarri was so reluctant to use him last term - but as a delightful mix of all-action box-to-box and technical prowess, he could be primed to prove Watford fans that he's been well worth the wait.

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