Lucas Digne joins Aston Villa: Will the former Everton left-back be a good fit in Steven Gerrard's squad?
Aston Villa beat competition from Premier League rivals Chelsea, Newcastle and West Ham for signing Lucas Digne, who will wear the No.27 jersey.
It's official! Lucas Digne has joined Aston Villa in a reportedly 25 million pound permanent move from Everton. The 28-year-old left-back bid farewell to Everton fans ahead of closing the deal, saying that he did not expect his time at the club to end this way. Aston Villa beat competition from Premier League rivals Chelsea, Newcastle and West Ham for signing Lucas Digne, who will wear the No.27 jersey.
Revealing that he made his way to Aston Villa for manager Steven Gerrard, Lucas Digne said, "It was the main factor. I came here for the manager. I had an excellent meeting with him. We spoke a couple of times during this month. I feel his desire to win, to show his football as a manager, the attacking football, the possession - I feel this is what I want and what I want to show to the fans."
Digne, who moved to Goodison Park from Barcelona in 2018, earlier had a fallout with manager Rafa Benitez over Everton's tactics that saw him being sidelined since the 4-1 home defeat to Liverpool on December 1. This month, the Everton boss revealed that the Frenchman had asked to leave the club and appeared to accuse Digne of putting his needs ahead of the team's.
However, in an Instagram post on Wednesday night, Lucas Digne hit back, stating that sometimes it only takes one person outside to destroy a beautiful love affair. Digne also thanks Everton supporters for the three-and-a-half years in blue.
"From day one, the Evertonians have received me with a lot of warm feelings, and I am forever thankful for that. I have loved to be a part of the Everton family. I have always worked hard to give back to the fans on and off the pitch. I have loved the unity of fans and players, not only Goodison (Park) on a matchday but also in everyday life," Digne wrote.
Digne also stated that just a year ago, he signed a new contract with the ambition to stay in Everton for a long time, give everything for the club, the development, the project he believed in, and the fans' passion. "My dream was helping the club back where it belongs. Wearing the captain's armband in some matches always made me proud," Digne said.
Mentioning that he did not expect things to end this way, Lucas Digne also expressed his sadness over what had happened and the things that were being said about him in the last month. "But I will not enter a war on words with anyone. The club doesn't deserve that, the fans don't deserve that - and to be honest, I don't feel that I deserve that. There are so many good and decent people in and around Everton who want the best for this club and not only for themselves - and to them, I can only say from my heart: I wish you the best!" the 28-year-old remarked.
"Thank you to all you wonderful, proud and passionate true Evertonians. It has been an honour and a true pleasure to play for you, the fans, the people because a club does not belong to a player or a manager but the fans. I will always carry you with me in my heart wherever I go," Digne concluded.
The left-back's arrival at Aston Villa comes just a week after manager Stever Gerrard roped in his former Liverpool teammate Philippe Coutinho to the team on loan from Spanish giants Barcelona. However, will Lucas Digne be a good fit at Villa?
Since joining Everton in 2018, Lucas Digne has recorded the most number of assists than any other player in the club and is known for his tremendous ability to create chances. In 15 games this season, the French international scored once for Everton, who are placed 15th in the Premier League table ahead of their clash away at Norwich on Saturday. It is also worth noting that the left-back has over 40 caps for France and is also rich in experience regarding title wins during his time with Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.
Sky Sports' Peter Smith suggests that Digne's creative stats will excite Aston Villa fans. He is also of the opinion that at 28, Digne is in his prime, and his attacking output puts him among the best full-backs in the league. Meanwhile, other football pundits pointed out that Digne is the second player after Coutinho to join the club for manager Steven Gerrard. Digne is a huge signing, and this clearly shows ambition on the part of Aston Villa, experts added.
Praising Digne's skills, manager Steven Gerrard stated, "When Lucas became available, we jumped at the opportunity to bring him to the club. To sign a player of his pedigree and quality in the January window is a great addition to our squad."
As for Everton, the club has signed 22-year-old Vitaliy Mykolenko as a replacement. Although the Ukraine international has played in the Champions League and Euros last summer, experts believe he cannot currently match Digne's quality and experience.