Lucas Digne says “gem” Ademola Lookman boasts the talent and mindset to carve out a “big future” in football.
Forward Lookman has started Everton’s past three matches, scoring one goal and creating another, following a short period of inactivity.
The 21-year-old’s sizzling FA Cup display against Lincoln City earlier this month prompted manager Marco Silva to declare Lookman would be integral in his plans to shape an expansive and progressive Everton team.
Lookman’s direct run and pinpoint delivery set up Dominic Calvert-Lewin to complete Everton’s 2-0 success over Bournemouth a fortnight ago.
And left-back Digne echoed Silva’s sentiments, tipping his young teammate to continue growing as a footballer at Goodison Park.
“Ademola is a gem and he is so important for us,” Digne told evertontv.
“He is still young and has a lot of quality.
“He is a very good player and I think he has a big future in front of him.
“He is doing very well throughout games and for an offensive player it is important to be decisive sometimes.
“It was the cherry on the cake for him when he got the assist against Bournemouth. He deserved it and it was perfect in the last minute.”
Lookman has started seven Premier League matches since joining Everton in January 2017 and last week’s meeting with Southampton represented only the second time he has lined up in successive top-flight games.
The former Charlton Athletic player combined with striker Calvert-Lewin to telling effect when the pair came off the bench against Crystal Palace earlier this season.
And Lookman exhibited another weapon in his heavily-stocked armoury when he dinked home a lovely header from Leighton Baines’ cross against Lincoln to help Everton progress to Saturday's fourth round tie with Millwall.
Silva selected Lookman for last month’s Goodison Park encounter with Newcastle United after the England Under-21 player – who scored five goals and assisted another four in 11 Bundesliga matches on loan at RB Leipzig in the second half of 2017-18 – contributed a succession of influential performances as a substitute.
He was excellent in a half-hour cameo against Manchester City 10 days before Christmas but had his festive period wiped out by a minor ankle injury.
Lookman has been a fixture in 2019, however, typically operating wide on the right but exploiting his strength on both feet by intermittently switching to the opposite flank, where he has linked with Digne.
The France international, then, has enjoyed a front-row view of Lookman in full flow – a sight which he concedes is preferable to the one that confronts him when the duo are in direct opposition on the training fields at USM Finch Farm.
“I play against him sometimes and you see immediately he has so much quality,” said Digne.
“He is skilful and clever and a very difficult player to get the ball from.
“He is a very nice guy. He lives close to me and sometimes we travel to Finch Farm together, so we talk a lot about football.
“He wants to work and learn and he is dedicated to football.
“With this mentality, he can continue to improve.”