Lucas Digne is eyeing a prominent role in the “new project” being launched at Everton by manager Carlo Ancelotti.
France international left-back Digne committed a portion of his prime years to Goodison Park when he signed a five-year deal with the Club shortly after turning 25 two years ago.
Digne, a fixture in Ancelotti’s first-choice XI, spoke exclusively to Everton’s limited-edition matchday programme for this week’s encounter with Aston Villa.
He joined Everton from Barcelona and has played for Paris Saint-Germain and Roma – but it wasn’t until coming to L4 that Digne began planting his footballing roots.
The beginning of 2020/21 will mark the first time Digne has started a third successive season with the same club and his Everton contract takes the defender to the brink of his 30th birthday in 2023.
“I am happy to be part of the new project with Everton,” said Digne.
“We are building something with the coach and the new season will be important.
“We are a strong team but a very young team.
“I know it is not easy in football but we need a bit of time.
“We have to be patient.
“But it is important we can show we are improving game after game.
“We can be in Europe soon, I am sure, and in a few years we will be towards the top of the league.
“Carlo Ancelotti is a big coach who knows what he wants.
“He is not messing about, is he? He has won three Champions Leagues.
“He is the boss.
“Really quiet and calm and he reads games very well.
“He helps the team be calm and patient and we need this.”
Digne addresses an array of pertinent topics in his feature-length interview, which fronts another behind-closed-doors programme full of exclusive content and news from inside the four walls of Goodison.
The player, who started out at boyhood club Lille in Ligue 1, recalls the swirling emotions around his senior debut as a teenager, memories which sped back when 19-year-old Anthony Gordon made his first Everton start, against Liverpool last month.
Digne is embracing the responsibility of providing on-field guidance for Gordon, the pair occupying Everton’s left flank in all three home games since last month’s restart.
In the most recent of those matches, Southampton's visit last Thursday, Digne speared a wondrous pass for Richarlison to net Everton’s equalising goal in a 1-1 draw.
That was a seventh assist this season for Digne, third highest among Premier League defenders and joint-10th in the entire division.
Digne landed in England already trailing a reputation for his raiding from defence but insists the toing and froing of Premier League games has enabled him to polish this aspect of his game.
“I have improved my attacking since coming to Everton, for sure,” says Digne.
“My crossing is better and tactically I understand more.
“If I can give key passes, assists, crosses, score sometimes, I want to do it to help the team.
“It is part of my job.
“I love the intensity of the Premier League, it suits how I like to play, fast and with a lot of tackles and competition.
“I have developed physically and tactically in England.
“I never played with this intensity in other countries and you have to learn in every game.
“I think it [pass for Richarlison’s goal against Southampton] was one of my best but it was more when I saw it after the game [I appreciated how good it was].
“I realised, ‘Okay, that was a good pass’.
“But Richi finished very well and I was happy I could help him.
“Richi deserves his goals because he gives us so much but the most important thing is to do everything for the team.”
As part of #TogetherEverton, an initiative conceived to maintain Evertonians' position at the core of the Club while unable to attend games, we committed to producing our customary exclusive-laden 68-page programmes for the final five Goodison Park matches this term.
Programmes are priced at £3.50 each, plus shipping fees. Delivery is subject to Royal Mail so order early to receive your copy before each match.