EPL

Benitez confirms reported Chelsea target Digne wants to leave Everton

By Sports Desk January 07, 2022

Rafael Benitez has confirmed Lucas Digne wants to leave Everton.

Left-back Digne, who signed from Barcelona for a reported £18million in August 2018, has not featured for the Toffees since a 4-1 home defeat to Merseyside rivals – and Benitez's former club – Liverpool on December 1.

That loss was one of eight for Everton from their last 12 Premier League games. They have won just one of their fixtures in that run, beating Arsenal 2-1 thanks to a late Demarai Gray stunner.

Everton, who were limited in the off-season transfer window partly due to the Premier League's profit and sustainability rules, have been active already this month, signing right-back Nathan Patterson from Rangers for a fee believed to be £11m plus add-ons, and bringing in left-back Vitaliy Mykolenko from Dynamo Kiev, seemingly to replace Digne.

Chelsea, who need cover at left wing-back following news of Ben Chilwell's season-long injury lay-off, are rumoured to be interested, while West Ham and Newcastle United have also been linked.

And, in a somewhat unexpected outburst during Friday's news conference to preview Everton's trip to Hull City in the FA Cup, Benitez revealed Digne, who signed a new long-term contract in 2021, wished to leave.

Benitez also addressed an Everton legend from the club's 1980s heyday in the form of Peter Reid, who on Sunday, after a 3-2 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion, tweeted: "Major problems at Goodison Park, huge concerns about the direction of the football club."

The Spanish coach told reporters: "I want to ask a question to every fan, or former players, what Peter Reid will do or say if a player doesn't want to be there. That's it, simple.

"I had a couple of conversations with [Digne], he told me what he thought. What do you expect a manager to do? Fans, former players, what will Peter Reid say if a player goes to the manager that he doesn't want to be here?

"We need players that want to be here. Talking about individual stats when the team finished 10th [last season], it means nothing for me. I want a winning mentality, ambition, it will take some time."

Asked why he included Digne on the bench for Sunday's loss to Brighton, having dropped him altogether for previous matches, Benitez said: "I try to do what is best for the club, sometimes you pay for that."

Benitez also confirmed there had been no bids for Digne.

"I would like to sign [Erling] Haaland and [Kylian] Mbappe, but you'd need commitment. We don't have commitment yet," he said.

"There is interest but nothing concrete. What I cannot do is give priority to those who are not interested. Do we want to grow and improve or just manage egos?"

Big boots to fill?

With Digne's replacement already through the door, the focus for Everton will be on recouping a suitable fee for such an experienced player in arguably his prime years.

Digne has undoubtedly been a success at Everton after having a tricky spell at Barca, where he struggled for regular minutes behind Jordi Alba in the pecking order.

Having replaced fan-favourite Leighton Baines as first choice at Everton, Digne went on to be a creative fulcrum under Marco Silva and Carlo Ancelotti, both from set-pieces and open play.

Since making his Everton debut on August 11, 2018, Digne has created 211 chances in the Premier League, ranking him behind only Liverpool star Trent Alexander-Arnold (267) among defenders.

Digne's 34 big chances created is the third most, behind Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson, with his 18 league assists also only bettered by the Liverpool duo.

Alexander-Arnold (1,408) is also the only defender to have played more passes/crosses into the area than Digne (902), highlighting just how much of a persistent threat the Frenchman can be.

But on the defensive side of things, Digne has proven himself slightly more reliable in the tackle than Alexander-Arnold and Robertson, with the former Paris Saint-Germain full-back boasting a better success rate (63.2 per cent) than both in such situations.

That desire also translates to his duels involvement, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Charlie Taylor the only full-backs (minimum 50 games played) to have a better duel success rate than Digne's 59.4 (712/1,199) since the Everton man made his Premier League debut.

Related items

  • Slumping D-backs turn to Dallas Keuchel for start against Tigers Slumping D-backs turn to Dallas Keuchel for start against Tigers

    The sputtering Arizona Diamondbacks are in need of a spark and hope a former Cy Young Award winner can ignite it.

    Hoping to shake off a horrendous start to the season, Dallas Keuchel will make his Diamondbacks debut and try to help Arizona end a five-game losing streak in Sunday's series finale with the Detroit Tigers.

    The 34-year-old left-hander signed a minor league contract with the Diamondbacks on June 6 following a desperate start to the season by the Chicago White Sox leading to his release.

    The move to Arizona reunited him with pitching coach Brent Strom, who worked with Keuchel in 2015 when he won the AL Cy Young Award with the Houston Astros while going 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA.

    The Diamondbacks are hopeful Keuchel can replicate the success he had with the Astros as opposed to the way he was knocked around with the White Sox over this season's first two months.

    In eight starts for Chicago this season, Keuchel went 2-5 with a 7.88 ERA, permitting 49 hits and 20 walks in just 32 innings.

    Among the 208 players with at least 30 innings pitched this season, Keuchel's 2.16 WHIP is the worst in the majors.

    Prior to being called up by the Diamondbacks, he went 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts in the Arizona Complex League.

  • 'I've never seen real leadership from him' – Legrottaglie questions whether Juventus should fight for De Ligt 'I've never seen real leadership from him' – Legrottaglie questions whether Juventus should fight for De Ligt

    Matthijs de Ligt has never shown "real leadership" with Juventus and the club might do well to offload him, according to former Bianconeri defender Nicola Legrottaglie.

    The Netherlands centre-back is under contract at the Allianz Stadium until June 2024, but could soon be on the move after three years in Italy.

    Chelsea have been linked with a move for the 22-year-old, who has been a regular in the heart of the Juventus defence since arriving from Ajax for €85.5million in July 2019.

    The centre-half has racked up 117 appearances across all competitions, scoring eight goals, and winning the Serie A title during his first season.

    In 87 Serie A games, he has committed just one error leading to a goal, yet Legrottaglie has not been wholly convinced by De Ligt.

    With the Chelsea rumour now circling, Legrottaglie said: "If the boy was really convinced he wanted to leave, I don't know how much it would be better for Juventus to keep him at home against his will."

    Legrottaglie, who also played for Italy, believes there are plenty of admirable elements about De Ligt's game.

    "In terms of characteristics, I have always liked the player," Legrottaglie told Tuttojuve.com. "I believe, however, that he has never really immersed himself into the environment.

    "I have never seen real leadership from him; from the outside, he has been perceived as a bit separate from the group. Let's say he didn't do everything to make himself loved."

    De Ligt remarked that Torino centre-back Gleison Bremer and Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly might have the attributes to bolster the Juventus defence, after back-to-back fourth-placed finishes in Serie A.

    He also pointed to the likely high cost of such players, and said: "It is not certain that with a great champion you necessarily do better, especially in defence. What counts is the work of the department, which often makes up for the quality of the individual."

    Speaking in early June to Dutch outlet NOS, De Ligt said talks about his Juventus future had been taking place, adding: "When the time comes, I will decide whether I will extend or whether I want to look further.

    "I always look at what is best for myself in terms of the sporting project. Fourth place twice in a row is not good enough; we will have to make steps in that direction."

  • Stanley Cup: Brayden Point set to miss Game 6, 'you never know' for Game 7 Stanley Cup: Brayden Point set to miss Game 6, 'you never know' for Game 7

    The two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning will once again try to stave off elimination without Brayden Point.

    Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Point skated on Sunday prior to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Colorado Avalanche but also mentioned he does not plan on changing his lineup, meaning Point will miss a fourth straight game.

    The Avalanche lead the series 3-2 and are one victory away from winning their first Stanley Cup since 2001.

    "It's unfortunate because it's a severe injury," Cooper said. "At this time of the year, everybody's trying to get back into the lineup and just there are some things you can't do.

    "When you can't do what you're used to doing, it's tough on a player."

    Point, the Lightning's leading scorer during each of the team's Cup runs over the last two seasons, suffered a lower-body injury in Game 7 of Tampa Bay's first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    He missed the next two rounds before returning for Games 1 and 2 of the Final series but was clearly limited with one total shot in the two games and has been out of the lineup since.

    "It's extremely difficult for everyone involved because everyone cares so much. But there's no animosity or anything like that. They're just difficult conversations because everybody wants the same thing," Cooper said.

    Point has been sorely missed on the power play, as the Lightning have gone just five-for-38 (13.2 per cent) with the extra skater in their past 13 games.

    If Tampa can defend home ice on Sunday and force a Game 7, however, Cooper did not rule out Point returning for Tuesday in Denver. 

    "He's still plugging along here and rehabbing and trying to get better. Who knows? If the series goes one more game, you never know," Cooper said.

    "It's tough on these guys because they're such competitors."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.