EPL

Villa complete swoop for Everton full-back Digne

By Sports Desk January 13, 2022

Lucas Digne has completed his move to Aston Villa from Everton.

Villa have secured a deal reportedly worth up to £25million for the France full-back, who moves to Villa Park on a long-term contract.

Digne becomes Villa's second signing of the January transfer window after Philippe Coutinho linked up with former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard – now manager at Villa Park – on loan from Barcelona.

Villa confirmed Digne's arrival on their official website on Thursday and Gerrard added: "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 and his arrival excites me and everyone associated with Aston Villa."

Asked about Gerrard's influence in completing a move between Everton and Villa, Digne said: "It was the main factor. I came here for the manager.

"I had a very good meeting with him and 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 it’s what I want and what I want to show to the fans."

Digne moved to Everton from Barcelona for a reported £18m in August 2018 and had been a fan favourite at Goodison Park.

However, the left-back has not featured for the Toffees since a 4-1 home defeat to Merseyside rivals – and Rafael Benitez's former club – Liverpool on December 1.

Digne had fallen out of favour following a rift with Benitez over tactics employed by an Everton side who have won just one of their past 12 Premier League matches.

The defender appeared to aim a parting shot at Benitez in a social media post on Wednesday, stating "sometimes it only takes one person from outside to destroy a beautiful love affair".

He had also been heavily linked with Chelsea, who are seeking a reinforcement in the position following a long-term injury to Ben Chilwell, while Newcastle United, West Ham, Inter and Napoli were also credited with an interest. 

What will Digne bring to Villa?

Having replaced 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 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.

Matt Targett will likely lose his place to Digne, who even in a more restricted attacking role has still created 1.7 chances per 90 minutes this season, compared to Targett's 1.3.

Digne's 1.5 tackles is also an improvement on Targett's 1.1, though he has averaged fewer interceptions (1.1) per 90 minutes than either Targett or Villa right-back Matthew Cash.

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