Everton have endured a torrid few weeks after an encouraging start to life under new manager Rafael Benitez, but there has been one constant glimmer of hope buried beneath their anguish.
The likes of Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend have proven to be inspirational signings but the form of highly-rated left-back Lucas Digne has slipped under the radar somewhat this season. That’s partly down to his lack of goals and assists, and also the defensive shackles that the new regime has placed upon him.
Benitez has always been known for a safety-first approach to proceedings, and although this new style is restricting Digne’s output, the France international is still performing at a very high level.
Over the last couple of seasons, the 28-year-old has been responsible for setting up 14 of Everton’s Premier League goals after being given license to bomb forward. However, those heady days under the tutelage of Carlo Ancelotti and Marco Silva are now a thing of the past.
Digne’s primary objective is now to stop the ball going into Jordan Pickford’s net rather than setting up one of his teammates to fire a shot past the opposition goalkeeper.
Nevertheless, the former Barcelona, Roma and Paris Saint-Germain defender is doing an admirable job under unusual circumstances, as his underlying numbers clearly indicate.
As per SofaScore, Digne has won a whopping 58 duels in his 11 top-flight fixtures this term, made 17 key passes to his grateful teammates, and pulled off 28 tackles, 22 clearances and 11 interceptions.
These figures clearly illustrate the influence that he is having over proceedings, highlighting the important part he has played for Benitez’s side up to now.
Everton will be hoping to end a run of five games without a victory when they take on Brentford over the weekend, and Digne’s performance level could prove pivotal in their search for a positive result.