Lucas Digne has revealed why it is “an exciting time to be at Everton” and declared his confidence the Blues will return to their “true level” following the international break.
The left-back also underlined Everton’s ambition to achieve European qualification this season.
After kicking off the campaign with seven straight victories – Everton’s best start to a season since 1894/95 – Carlo Ancelotti’s side have seen their momentum checked in recent weeks.
The Toffees are now in seventh position in the Premier League table but just five points behind leaders Leicester City.
Digne is convinced the elite quality within Everton’s playing and coaching ranks will see the Blues swiftly return to form.
“We had a perfect start, and then we hit some bumps in the road, but we will bounce back now,” said Digne, who is currently on international duty with France.
“To me, our good start was not a surprise. We showed our true level.
“We have lost some rhythm and momentum, but we were missing players in recent games with injuries and suspensions. We will be back on track soon - for sure.
“The Club did well in the transfer market. We are a good group of players - and have a great manager with amazing experience in top football.
“It is an exciting time to be in Everton right now.
“We will get back to our best and will be a strong team this season.
“Everton have ambitions to play in the Champions League, and so do I.
“There is no doubt that we aim for Europe.”
Since joining Everton from Barcelona in 2018, Digne has established himself as one of the Premier League’s most influential full-backs.
The 27-year-old’s attacking prowess is highlighted by the fact only two Premier League defenders have created more chances than his 11 this season.
He has supplied 14 accurate crosses already this term – a total only surpassed by West Ham United’s Aaron Cresswell among his top-flight defensive counterparts.
Digne’s assured, determined defending has also impressed. Only one Premier League full-back [Aston Villa’s Matthew Cash] has made more clearances than his 23.
The Frenchman believes he is primed to deliver the best football of his career at Everton.
“I have been playing at a consistent level for a long time,” Digne said.
“The stats show that.
“I have just entered my best age as a football player, being 27.
“I love to give an assist. I am a defender, and defending is number one - but attacking with crossing, passing and shooting is a part of the role as a left-back in the modern game and in the Premier League.
“I am happy when my cross or my key pass turns into a goal, and I enjoy the good attacking stats.
“But I am also happy for good stats regarding aerials won, clearances etc. I enjoy both the defensive and the attacking part of being a left-back.”
Everton’s game against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Sunday (12pm GMT) will be shown live on the BBC after it was announced every Premier League match between now and the new year will be televised.
With matches still being held behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Digne admits he and his Toffees teammates are missing the passionate backing of Evertonians both at Goodison Park and on the road.
“It feels so strange to play a big game in an empty stadium without the supporters, especially in our own stadium,” he said.
“Basically, everything is different without fans: the whole atmosphere, to feel their dedication, their joy, their passion. We love to share those emotions with them.
“The supporters are the heart and soul of football, and we still play for them, even though they are not there - but we miss them badly.”