An imminent Everton signing has left Lucas Digne’s future hanging by a thread, and if Everton sack Rafa Benitez before the end of the season, it’s a deal that would represent a gross lack of foresight.
Fabrizio Romano has confirmed that left-back Vitaliy Mykolenko is set to join the Toffees for a fee of around £18m.
Lucas Digne has not appeared in the past three of Benitez’s squad, signifying that the Frenchman’s spell at Goodison Park could be coming to a sour end.
Romano tweeted this afternoon (December 17) that Digne “could really leave Everton in January” if the right offer comes in.
Benitez and Digne have both had poor campaigns, though statistics comparing Digne’s previous seasons to this one reflect badly on the Spaniard.
While Vitaliy Mykolenko could end up being a fantastic transfer – the 22-year-old already has 23 caps for Ukraine and has attracted the interest of some big clubs across Europe – any future manager for Everton that wants to play with attacking full-backs will miss the capabilities of Digne.
The Digne decline
In short, Lucas Digne’s stats this season show a dip in involvement and attacking output.
Given the appointment of Benitez and the injuries Everton have to important players, perhaps this isn’t a huge shock, but the stats are still particularly damning.
As per WhoScored’s statistics, Digne’s total touches per game have dropped from 70.8 last season to 66.7 in this campaign; his touches in the final third have fallen from 23.3 to 21.4, proving that he is having less influence under his new boss. His total number of crosses have dropped too, now averaging 1.2 per game compared to 1.5 per game under Carlo Ancelotti.
In terms of passing, Digne’s passing success rate has stooped from 77.5 per cent to 76 per cent, while his total number of passes have fallen from 42.2 per game to 39.1.
We’re nearly at the halfway stage of the season he has no assists this season, while in the 2020/21 campaign he had seven, and in 2019/20 he had eight. 15 assists from a defender over two seasons is an impressive stat – and that quality of delivery is something that Everton could do with, especially with Dominic Calvert-Lewin set to return soon.
What next for Benitez and Digne?
The Goodison faithful are yet to warm to the former Liverpool manager, and with the club languishing towards the bottom of the table, the bookies make him the favourite to get the sack next.
Benitez still has key players to return and a positive result against Chelsea proves it’s not over for him yet. But the signing of Mykolenko is an indication that he could well outlast the former Barcelona full-back.
Digne signed a new deal in February and is contracted until June 2025. With his stock low and in a covid-affected market, the possibility of him being sold for a lower value than six months ago is a real one.
Digne has already proved himself to Everton fans; Benitez less so. If the manager is sacked and he is sold before a new coach comes in, Farhad Moshiri could end up regretting his choice.