Abdoulaye Doucoure has admitted he was ‘very close’ to leaving Everton.

Speaking to The Athletic, the midfielder has opened up on his struggles under Frank Lampard and how he was ready to leave the club if the former boss wasn’t sacked last season.

Doucoure was a regular fixture in the Toffees’ line-up since joining from Watford in 2020, however Lampard’s arrival in January of last year saw him rapidly fall down the pecking order and he was restricted to the occasional cameo appearance from the bench.

Everton Pre-Season Training Camp
Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

The 30-year-old looked set to leave Goodison Park with his contract expiring this summer, however Sean Dyche’s appointment saw Doucoure claw his way back into the first team picture before extending his stay for another year.

“It was hard because it was the first time in my career that I didn’t play as much as I want, especially for reasons I don’t know,” Doucoure told The Athletic.

“I was one of the fittest players in the team and someone who always gave everything, so to not be able to help the team in bad moments when we were losing many games in a row was so hard. If the previous manager had stayed a few weeks more, I would have been gone.”

Everton could have been relegated if Abdoulaye Doucoure was still out in the cold

The Mali international finished the campaign with 17 starts in the Premier League and proved to be the Toffees hero when he netted the only goal in their clash with Bournemouth to confirm their top flight status.

Everton FC v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

“I was happy to be the one to score the goal to help the team stay up. It was a long season with low and high moments,” Doucoure said.

“For me personally, it was a challenge but it helped me to grow and achieve more success. Since the new manager came in, there was a lot of hard work from everyone and we deserved to stay up.

“I was very close (to leaving) but was happy to stay and help Everton.”

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