When watching Everton in recent times it has been clear that the team lacks some bite. At times the Merseyside club don’t display enough aggression or speed, both of mind and movement, and that is certainly something that manager Carlo Ancelotti will have noticed since taking over last December.
Now, it appears that the pragmatic Italian manager is seeking to rectify this flaw. If, as it now seems highly likely with only the final details of the contract to be agreed, Everton bring in Allan from Napoli then they will have a hugely experienced central midfielder who can add greater drive to Everton’s central areas.
Midfield is where Everton need reinforcements
There has been evidence of Everton’s defensive resolve when they kept eight clean sheets in an impressive run of 11 Premier League games at the end of the 2018/19 season. Admittedly that was before Ancelotti arrived but the back five remains largely unchanged since that run of fine performances. Despite the errors that Jordan Pickford and Michael Keane can throw up, it is a defence that Ancelotti likes and can work with.
Furthermore, up front Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have proven their worth in terms of goals with both scoring 15 in all competitions last season and the latter impressing with a flourishing burst under the temporary management of Duncan Ferguson which carried on when Ancelotti arrived. Both are still only 23 and have much more to give to the club.
It is in central midfield, though, that Everton need strengthening. The promise of Anthony Gordon is apparent but he is more equipped to be an attacking midfielder. What Ancelotti needs is a mobile central midfielder who can play either as a single pivot or as a double in a 4-4-2 alongside Andre Gomes. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fabian Delph are too slow to set the tempo required to breach opponents' press and Bernard, who normally plays further wide but does drift inside, is not dominant enough although one cannot dispute his effort.
Allan is an experienced, dominant midfielder
Allan, who has spent five seasons at Napoli, two of which were under the tutelage of Ancelotti, seemingly ticks the boxes. The Brazilian is 30-years-old and has plenty of first-team experience, having played at Udinese for four seasons before moving further south to Naples.
When observing Allan’s game up-close, as English viewers did when Napoli faced Liverpool home and away in their past two Champions League campaigns, his work-rate is striking; he sets the tempo and it’s often a high one too.
Constantly hustling and unsettling the central areas, he is a presence and a dominant force. When Napoli took on Roma last November, Allan was not playing due to injury and his absence was keenly felt. Napoli lost 2-1 and never managed to gain a foothold in midfield.
Of course, Napoli did not have the best of seasons last time out, which involved internal turmoil and poor performances before an upturn when Gennaro Gattuso became manager. Allan no doubt wanted a change of scenery as much as the other players during their rut.
Working with Ancelotti again seems to be a priority for the right-footed midfielder - a move to the Premier League would be a step up and he appears to be more equipped for it from the get-go than Jorginho was when he made the move in 2018. Likewise, Ancelotti always admires a tough dictator in midfield and managed to get the best out of the Rio-born player.
What is more, Allan scored 11 goals during his time at Napoli - not a bad tally for a deep-lying midfielder who much prefers to loiter outside the box during attacks. What Everton are getting is a player who can have an immediate impact in a midfield that has lacked guile and creativity in recent seasons.
The Merseyside club will be much more balanced with the introduction of the Brazilian and provides Ancelotti with further options and the opportunity to divert from the 4-4-2 that he deployed in the later stages of last season. He will help defensively and support the attack with his fine range of passing. Everton will be better with him.