Allan Already an Under-the-Radar Star at Everton – Just Like He Likes it

Sep 19, 2020, 4:04 PM GMT+1
Allan was superb at home to West Brom | Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Everton’s 5-2 thumping of West Brom on Saturday will rightly be afforded a fair few column inches in the Sunday papers.

There was a lot to admire about Carlo Ancelotti’s side’s display: Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s hat-trick, James Rodriguez’s brilliance, Richarlison’s selfless work ethic.

However, no matter how deep you delve into the analysis of the Toffees' win, it can be almost guaranteed that you won’t stumble across an article praising their summer signing Allan. Unless you're reading this, obviously.

Allan, Callum Robinson
Allan's combative style is exactly what Everton have been lacking | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The Brazilian was quietly superb at the heart of the Everton midfield, with his combative, no-nonsense style of play exactly what they've been missing, while his ability to recycle possession and keep things ticking over was exactly what was required against the tiring ten men of West Brom.

Ancelotti tended to opt for a central midfield two last season, with Andre Gomes and Tom Davies his preferred partnership. However, that was purely out of necessity rather than preference given his limited options.

While the pair are neat and tidy on the ball,and Davies in particular can bring energy to the heart of the team, Everton lacked that physical edge, an aggressive midfield enforcer who can compete and do the dirty side of the game while allowing his teammates to express themselves.

The arrival of Morgan Schneiderlin from Manchester United seemed to have plugged that gap, but the Frenchman was a shadow of his former self and never really settled on Merseyside.

Allan has looked a cut above in his first two league games for the club, and looks tailor-made for the physical demands of the Premier League after spending eight years in Serie A.

While the Brazilian's talents on the ball were there for all to see, one facet of his game which may skirt under the radar is his leadership. The omission of fans in football stadiums is of course a huge loss, but one of the few advantages it brings is the chance to hear the players more clearly.

The former Napoli man could be heard bellowing out orders to his teammates in the win over West Brom, and was constantly gesturing and waving to fellow midfield man Abdoulaye Doucouré. Allan is a leader, something Everton have far too few of.

With West Brom reduced to ten men follow Kieran Gibbs' inexplicable lash out at James, a number of the Everton side clearly saw their name in lights and began to stream forward at every possible opportunity in the hope of getting in on the act.

It left Everton open to the counter, something Slaven Bilic clearly recognised as the pacy Matt Phillips was introduced in the second half.

Grady Diangana, Allan
Allan in action against West Brom in his side's 5-2 win | Pool/Getty Images

However, Allan displayed maturity and nous in refusing to be drawn into a frivolous dash for goals, with the 29-year-old quite content to just sit back and soak up any loose balls which came his way and subsequently quashing any Baggies counter-attacks.

Almost every team Ancelotti has managed has had an enforcer at the heart of it, someone who acts as a midfield general and sets by example, whether it be Gennaro Gattuso, Edgar Davids, Michael Essien or even Allan himself at Napoli. It looks as though the Italian tactician has found his Toffees linchpin.

Allan's arrival at Goodison Park may not have been met with the fanfare that James' introduction spawned, but if he can stay fit then Everton have a fantastic chance of enjoying a real season of progression under Ancelotti.