Transfer Talk: Why clubs are taking a Luc at Everton outcast Digne
Lucas Digne is on the market — and there is plenty of interest in Everton’s star left-back.
The 28-year-old has fallen out with boss Rafa Benitez and looks set to leave Goodison Park this January.
As the Toffees prepare to face Hull in the FA Cup third round on Saturday, we explore where Digne could end up and why there is so much interest in the French international.
Digne was a near certainty in the Everton line-up until the start of December, playing every minute in 13 of their opening 14 games.
But he is persona non grata at Goodison Park since a falling out with Rafa Benitez, not that everyone is thrilled with the unpopular boss’ decision.
Former Toffee Michael Ball said: "He’s putting his own pride above the health of our football club.
"I think from this moment, the fans have now lost trust in him.
"We’ve got an international left-back on the bench. We don’t know the full story and it might be Rafa, or the board not wanting to risk Lucas with an offer incoming, but that happens in football and we’re not interested in the politics."
The problem for Benitez is that Digne has been one of the club’s standout players over recent seasons.
His tenacity in the tackle endears him to supporters while his quality from wide areas is a real threat going forward.
Digne has 18 assists and four goals in 113 top-flight appearances, as well as contributing to 31 clean sheets.
Speaking a couple of seasons ago, Gary Neville said: "I think he is a fantastic player. He plays really well up and down that left-hand side, he has a got a competitive edge about him."
Delving further into Digne's stats since the start of the last campaign show why clubs value him so highly.
He has the third-most assists per 90 and only Andy Robertson creates more than his 0.3 big chances per 90.
Defensively he is in the top 10 for every category too. He makes 2.24 tackles per game, is dribbled past 0.75 times per 90 mins and wins the ball back 3.53 times — the sixth-best in the top flight.
Digne is an all-round defender and at 28 is in the peak of his career. For any side wanting a left-back ready to settle in immediately, he is perfect.
But where could Digne go? Sky Sports have linked Chelsea, West Ham and Newcastle with the Frenchman this week.
The Blues’ need is obvious with Ben Chilwell out for the campaign and Marcos Alonso ageing.
But Digne would have to accept he may not be an automatic first choice next season if he moved there.
West Ham have Aaron Cresswell, who has himself been a reliable performer for many years, as well as Arthur Masuaku.
The Hammers continue to improve under David Moyes though and with Europa League football already, Digne will view a move to London as an attractive option.
Newcastle are the final club said to be in for the left-back. They may be able to offer him lots of cash, yet the threat of relegation is there.
A move south to London looks the most likely and both interested parties would be sensible options for Digne as he looks to make the most out of his best years.