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Everton facing squad exodus as Al-Ettifaq set sights on Abdoulaye Doucoure

Nine-time English champions Everton are experiencing difficult moments, with dark times looming over Goodison Park amid stalled takeover talks. 

Following November’s ten-point deduction, the Toffees face further punishment after being found guilty of breaching FFP rules alongside Nottingham Forest. 

Despite Sean Dyche’s utmost effort to save the Merseyside outfit from relegation, off-field turmoil has undone everything good his men achieved on the pitch. 

Only one point separates Everton from 18th-placed Luton Town, highlighting how detrimental another point-related sentence could be to their survival hopes. 

The situation is far from ideal. As takeover negotiations remain at a standstill, the risk of the squad erosion loom larger. 

Football has become a ruthless business. Blood is in the water, and the sharks have started gathering around, threatening to rip Dyche’s squad apart.

Saudis want Everton hero

According to Fabrizio Romano’s exclusive, Saudi Pro League side Al-Ettifaq have identified Abdoulaye Doucoure as a perfect candidate to replace the outgoing Jordan Henderson. 

Doucoure established himself as a fan favourite at Goodison after netting a crucial winner in a 1-0 home triumph against Bournemouth on the final day of last season to maintain Everton’s top-flight status.

Once perceived as a ‘destroyer,’ trusted with breaking the opposition’s play, the Frenchman has transformed into one of the best box-to-box midfielders under Dyche. 

He has channeled his ‘inner Dominic Calvert-Lewin’ to move atop the club’s scoring leaderboard in the Premier League this season with six goals, at least three more than any other Everton player. 

Given the 31-year-old’s importance to the team, the Toffees will fight tooth and nail to fend off Al-Ettifaq’s interest, irrespective of the club’s financial predicament. 

Toffees can’t afford to sell

There’s more to the Doucoure story than meets the eye. 

Not only would Everton lose their standout performer, but it would also send a signal to other sides the shop is open for business. 

Whenever a team loses its best player for whatever reason, it conveys a vexing message to the fans. 

More importantly, it often summons other sides to start asking questions about the availability of other players, and Everton have a handful of jewels on their hands.

Three more players would likely follow Doucoure through the exit door

If Doucoure’s potential departure does open the floodgate, Everton could be at risk of being stripped of the services of other in-demand stars. 

For starters, the Mali international’s midfield colleague Amadou Onana could be the first to seek refuge at a more stable Premier League club. 

Arsenal and Newcastle United have emerged as the most likely destinations for the Belgian starlet

Both sides are in the market for a new midfielder and have set their sights on Onana, who’s unlikely to stick around if the Toffees relinquish their Premier League status. 

If it comes to Everton trading places with Leeds United, who’re on course to secure a swift top-flight return, it would compromise Jack Harrison’s stay at Goodison.

Unlike other summer acquisitions, the versatile forward has been impressive during his loan spell at the club. 

However, a lack of finances and potential relegation would probably render the Toffees’ bid to turn Harrison’s move permanent impossible.

Another first-team star, Jarrad Branthwaite, would probably take advantage of these unfortunate circumstances to land a lucrative contract elsewhere.

With Manchester United and Real Madrid hot on Branthwaite’s heels, the highly-rated 21-year-old defender could be Everton’s next big-money sale. 

As per The Sun, Arsenal have joined the race for the young Englishman, whose possible departure could pour up to £100 million into the club’s bank accounts. 

But there’s no doubt Everton wouldn’t sanction his sale unless they were compelled to do so. 

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