Lucas Digne arrived at Goodison Park armed with an enviable CV. Capped 21 times by France, the dynamic left-back has won league titles with illustrious duo Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona and starred for first-club Lille and Serie A powerhouse AS Roma.
And all that by the age of 25. We have unearthed a wealth of information about Digne – and pieced it together… below.
The Winning Touch
Drill down into the minutiae of Digne’s career to date and you quickly discover why his signature has been so coveted by a clutch of the continent’s foremost clubs.
His winning pedigree goes all the way back to Lille, where Digne emerged from the academy to command a first-team starting spot aged 18.
He immediately settled into an expansive Lille outfit, his quick mind, sure touch and clever movement a perfect fit in a side featuring Eden Hazard, Dimitri Payet and Joe Cole.
Digne made his full Ligue 1 debut in a 1-0 win at Sochaux in February 2012, going on to play 12 more games before the end of the season, with Lille winning seven and drawing two of them.
He was an integral component of the Lille side beaten only four times in its final 24 matches to seal a top-six spot in 2012/13 and – after landing the Under-20 World Cup with France in summer 2013 – continued in the same vein with PSG.
The Parc des Princes club won 12 and drew one of the 15 league matches Digne started in his debut campaign in the capital. He had a similarly productive strike rate the following season, with Digne’s presence in the starting line-up yielding nine wins, four draws and a single defeat.
The defender featured in 14 of Roma’s final 15 matches in 2015/16, a pertinent fact given the capital team’s invincible form in that period. They scored 41 goals at a rate of 2.7 per game, as they won 12 matches and drew three to climb to third in the table and finish the season as Serie A’s leading scorers. Digne won seven of his first eight games in Italy’s top division, too.
He would enjoy an equally prosperous beginning to his Barcelona career, ending on the winning side in 10 of his 14 La Liga starts and tasting defeat only once in his first Camp Nou campaign.
Selected to start 15 games in his second season in Spain, Digne again suffered defeat only once and came out on top in eight of those matches.
His international record isn’t bad either, 14 of Digne’s 21 France appearances ending in victory and only two with him reflecting on a loss.
Walking into a new dressing room can amount to a daunting prospect for even the most experienced footballers.
Digne has proved himself a good traveller, though, snugly settling into new cultures and clubs in his previous stints away from home with AS Roma and Barcelona.
Nevertheless, having a couple of familiar faces around is pretty useful when it comes to expediting the bedding-in process.
In that respect, Digne will be fairly well off when he clocks on for the first time at Goodison Park and is greeted by Idrissa Gana Gueye and Morgan Schneiderlin.
He shared a pitch with Senegal international Gana on 46 occasions when the pair were together at Lille. Gana was patrolling Lille’s midfield when Digne made his first-team debut in a 6-1 League Cup thumping of Sedan in October 2011 and was doing likewise on the full-back’s farewell appearance, a 1-1 draw with Saint-Etienne nearly two years later.
Between times, the pair were fixtures in a free-spirited Lille side which reached the Champions League group stages in 2012/13 and consistently challenged towards the top of its domestic championship.
They have form for combining in front of goal, too, with Gana playing in Digne to score in Lille’s late come-from-behind win at Bastia in April 2013.
Six of Digne’s France caps have been won as part of the same team as Everton midfielder Schneiderlin. Rather propitiously the duo has lost together only once – against England at Wembley in November 2015 – and the three successes they shared include a 1-0 win over Spain. Digne and Schneiderlin both completed 90 minutes in France’s group-stage encounter with Ecuador at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.
It always makes for interesting viewing when a pedigree footballer is asked to select a team composed of the finest players he has lined up with.
If Digne is put in front of a camera to complete this exercise we could be there for some time. The Frenchman can select from an extraordinary pool.
His most recent employers were Barcelona for starters. Digne, then, counted Lionel Messi as a team-mate, one of the few players he could ink into his chosen XI without fear of recourse to the Tippex.
Andres Iniesta, Neymar, Sergio Busquets, Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic were all colleagues at the Nou Camp. So, too, heavily decorated pair Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano.
At PSG, Digne would go to work every day with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Brazil captain Thiago Silva and Blaise Matuidi, a World Cup winner with France this summer. He played with crack Uruguayan pair Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi in Paris, as well.
If Digne has always felt comfortable in exclusive company then we should not be surprised. He first had Paul Pogba as a teammate in France’s Under-16 side way back in January 2009 and has played 40 matches with the Manchester United man as they progressed through the age group levels with their national side.
Digne walked into a Lille dressing room where the stardust was sprinkled by Eden Hazard and Dimitri Payet. At Roma he was rubbing shoulders with the likes of Francesco Totti, Eden Dzeko, Mohamed Salah and Daniel De Rossi.
Hugo Lloris might be a shoo-in, in goal – but if Digne is ever asked to whittle that bunch down to XI, well good luck to him.
Digne’s innate ability was identified early by Lille who had him on their books before he entered his teenage years. He progressed smoothly through the French club’s youth system, penning a professional deal as soon as he turned 17 and advancing into the first-team in quick time.
The 25-year-old’s life has been lived in football, so it’s a rather good job he considers the sport a “passion” and is a self-declared “student” of the game.
Digne pores over videos of himself in action searching for any detail which could aid his bid for self-improvement.
To the same end, he absorbs footage of the game’s elite players in action. Digne was asked to list his favourite performers in each of the four compartments of the pitch.
Gianluigi Buffon got the nod in goal, a choice which would meet with approval the world over given the evergreen Italian’s legendary status and weight of achievements.
There was perhaps some insight into how Digne views his day job in his choice of defender. An avowed fan of Brazilian raider Roberto Carlos, Digne nevertheless plumped for arch-defender Paolo Maldini as the best in his trade.
In explaining his selection of Xavi as his favourite midfielder, Digne told us something about his football ideals, too. “He never lost the ball,” exclaimed Digne, with a definite sense of admiration.
And what about this on his number one forward. “He created magic and happiness,” Digne said of Brazilian genius Ronaldinho, perhaps opening a window into the mind of a man who absolutely understands the power of football.
The popular Digne has tattoos on both arms, with each inscribing boasting its own personal significance.
His family provide the inspiration for four of the designs, with the birthdates of Digne’s mother, father, brother and girlfriend among his artwork.
He has two motivational messages, too, one reading, ‘Make your life a dream, and your dream, reality’, the other, ‘No pain, no gain’.
The personable Frenchman has won the respect of teammates and supporters wherever he has been.
His valedictory note to Barcelona included thanks to all manner of people at the club who combine to make Barca an “incredible family”, and special words for the fans, his playing colleagues and the city and its people.
He signed off with, “A very strong hug to all and good luck for the season.”