Everton secured their first win in nine games with a 2-1 victory over Arsenal in the Premier League on Monday evening, but the curious absence of Lucas Digne left certain questions unanswered.
Rafa Benitez was extremely coy over the 28-year-old’s exclusion from the matchday squad, refusing to reveal the reason behind his decision to drop the defender in his pre and post-match interviews.
But now, Liverpool ECHO reporter Phil Kirkbride has provided an update on Digne’s absence, claiming his inability to carry out the manager’s tactical instructions in recent weeks saw him left at home.
“His decision to drop Lucas Digne from the matchday squad, even though fit, does not need much decoding. There is clear tension in their relationship about the team’s style of play and what is being asked of the left-back,” wrote Kirkbride.
“But if the events of the past couple of days, and what the club said in the wake of Brands’ departure, tells us, is that Benitez is in charge, and what he says goes.
“Who knows if there is any way back for Digne after this? It seems unlikely at this stage. Benitez will have been given plenty of reason to keep playing Ben Godfrey there after an aggressive and determined display,” he concluded.
Although Benitez’s decision to select Godfrey over Digne was ultimately justified as Everton secured a much-needed three points, the club’s supporters will surely still be fuming with the situation given how reliable he can be.
The France international has been one of the Merseyside outfit’s standout performers since his arrival from Barcelona back in August 2018, scoring six goals and providing 20 assists in 127 appearances.
And although he’s struggled to make the same impact in the opening weeks of the current campaign, his underlying numbers still indicate a high level of performance.
As per WhoScored, the left-back has averaged 1.2 crosses in his 13 top-flight outings this term, 1.7 key passes and 2.5 tackles, placing him second compared to his teammates for each metric.
Whether Digne can work his way back in Benitez’s first-team plans remains to be seen, but the club’s fanbase will certainly be hoping a reconciliation can be reached.
After all, he is a hugely important player for the team and leaving him at home will benefit absolutely nobody.