Digne Relishing Burnley Battle With Everton 'Family'

Lucas Digne is expecting his first taste of Boxing Day football to be a classically spicy English affair.

Everton defender Digne is accustomed to having a rest over the festive period after playing in France, Italy and Spain before moving to Goodison Park in the summer.

Marco Silva’s side, however, are in the thick of their busiest period of the season, with today’s visit to Burnley the second of four Premier League matches in nine days for the Blues.

Digne insists Sean Dyche’s uncompromising team will hold no surprises for him – and the Frenchman, who will be watched at Turf Moor by his parents and brother – is savouring the chance to tackle a congested calendar.

“It will be my first time playing on Boxing Day,” said Digne. “I’m very happy to be playing over Christmas. Christmas is about spending time with your family - and Everton is my family.

“We know it will be a very hard game against Burnley. They are a really strong team. They play 'English-style' football and are very strong in the challenge.

“And it is always difficult when you play away. But every game is very important, the season is so long and anything can happen and we need the points to stay towards the top of the league.

“I am so happy to play in front of my family. They are in England for three weeks and it is an amazing opportunity.

“For me, it’s perfect because you can play football and then after spend time with your family.”

Digne adapted seamlessly to the Premier League following his transfer from Barcelona in August and has established himself as one of manager Silva’s go-to men in Everton’s back four.

The 25-year-old is in competition for his place with Leighton Baines, the former England international in his 12th season at Goodison Park.

And Digne cites his fellow left-back as chief among the men who have helped his swift transition into the rough and tumble of English football.

“When I arrived my teammates and the coach and the staff gave me the perfect welcome,” said Digne.

“My teammates have been great with me. They’ve helped me with my English and to understand everything in training.

“Leighton has been amazing with me, we have a very good relationship. He gives me a lot of advice before the games and is an amazing player and man.

“When you feel good off the pitch, you feel very good on it.

“I have more responsibility on the pitch and a lot of confidence. I am so happy to be here and to play for Everton.

“The football in England is so quick, it is intense with a lot of tackles. There are a lot of challenges for a defender in every match.

“I want to play a lot of games and give a lot to the Club because they gave me so much confidence – and give a lot to the fans because they gave me a fabulous welcome in my first game.”

Digne is proving a dependable creative outlet for Everton. Encouraged by Silva to supplement the Blues’ attack, the 23-cap international, who was recalled by his national team after two months on Merseyside, routinely gallops forward to provide high-calibre service into the box.

He is adept at linking with the winger in front of him, too, and recently stepped up in a clutch moment to bend home the free-kick which salvaged a draw for Everton in the final knockings of a game against Watford.

All of this, he insists, is a product of the potent cocktail of Silva’s coaching, his own training ground diligence and the footballing nous of his left-sided colleagues.

"It’s really important when you play out wide to have a good relationship with the players in front of you and I have really good relationships with Richi [Richarlison], Ademola Lookman and Bernard,” said Digne.

“They are amazing players, so intelligent. When they move inside, you have the space to go past them.

“The training is so hard, we work a lot and it is a very good thing. 

“The manager loves to have possession and attack. He is very close to the players and gives everyone a lot of individual advice.

“And, most importantly, we have the spirit to play forwards.

“We have a very good team and a lot of quality in the group."

On his strike against Watford, which represented Everton's first dead-ball success this season, Digne added: “It is not so easy to score from set-pieces but we can do better and are working a lot on them during the week.

“We need to be focused when we shoot.

“I practice a lot with Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison and when you can score, it is perfect.”