At the beginning of the season, there was a lot of excitement and buzz surrounding Everton ’s summer arrivals.
The Blues were keen to bring Richarlison to the club and made secret of this before the move was finally confirmed, with the Brazilian teaming up with his former manager Marco Silva over to Goodison Park.
The price paid for the 21-year-old got many people talking, with many believing he couldn’t live up to the hype.
The jury is still out on whether Richarlison has been worth the fee – but one of his fellow summer signings has definitely justified Silva’s decision to bring him to Goodison Park.
The left-back area has been one of the Blues’ major problems, and was in desperate need of addressing.
After toying with the possibility of the likes of Kieran Tierney, Marcel Brands eventually settled on long-term target Lucas Digne – and what a decision that has proven to be report the Liverpool Echo .
The task of replacing Leighton Baines at left back was not an easy one, the former England international was once the best in his position in the Premier League and Everton were still too reliant on him.
It wasn’t long ago that the 34-year-old was one of the focal points of the Blues attack, but since Digne’s emergence in the starting line-up he can hardly get near the side.
The French international wasted no time in showing exactly what he can bring to his new club, putting in such a good display in his debut in the League Cup win over Rotherham in August that he ousted Baines for the subsequent league match against Huddersfield.
Both games saw the full back bag assists, both for Dominic Calvert-Lewin , and saw the new signing cement his place in the side.
And he hasn’t looked back since.
Now, Digne has established himself as one of the first names on Silva’s team sheet, with his influence at both ends of the pitch proving crucial for the Blues.
The left-back has stepped straight into Baines’ shoes in terms of being an attacking outlet, currently sitting as Everton’s top assist-maker in the Premier League this term with four.
The French international has also attempted more crosses than any other player in England’s top division this term with 214, showing his desire to create chances for Everton’s strikers.
Not content with just that, though, December saw Digne find his own shooting boots.
The full back scored a vital last-minute free kick to earn a point at home to Watford, before bagging a brilliant double away to Burnley – with the first also coming from a dead-ball situation.
Not just stepping into Baines’ creative role, however, Digne has also made the spot in Silva’s starting XI his own with some brilliant defensive work.
The last few months especially haven’t been easy for Everton, with the side in general struggling to keep clean sheets on a regular basis.
However, that hasn’t stopped the full back picking up some brilliant defensive statistics.
In terms of tackles, Digne has the second-best figures at Everton with 54 – only finding himself behind Idrissa Gueye who is head-and-shoulders above most in the whole Premier League.
The 25-year-old averages 1.6 interceptions per match in the league, with his total figures in that category of 43 placing him just behind fellow former Lille man Gueye once more.
And, despite not being the tallest of Everton’s back four by any means, he is still showing an impressive aerial prowess so far this term.
Digne is currently the Blues fourth-best performer in the air, only coming behind Michael Keane, Kurt Zouma and Dominic Calvert-Lewin having won 70 aerial duels in the Premier League this term.
The future of Everton
Away from statistics though, it’s clear to see why Everton fans have quickly fallen in love with the summer arrival.
Digne has quickly caught on to the nuances that come with being a Blues star – looking to connect with supporters as much as possible on and off the pitch.
While playing, his determination and energy shine through, typified perfectly by his last-ditch challenge on Fabinho to keep the Merseyside derby goalless at Goodison Park earlier this month.
Beyond that, his link-up play down the left flank has been a pleasure to watch, with the former Barcelona man clearly taking some tips from his ex-teammates in that regard.
At just 25 years old, the left-back is already showing the qualities to nail down that place in Everton’s starting XI for years to come.
And, when the player of the season votes start being made, there’s little doubt Digne will be up there with the firm favourites.