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Lucas Digne: Aston Villa set to beat Chelsea, Newcastle and West Ham to signing of Everton left-back

Lucas Digne has had a public falling out with Everton manager Rafael Benitez and is expected to leave the club this month; Aston Villa are in pole position to sign the left-back, with personal terms between the two parties not expected to be an issue

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Sky Sports' Pete Smith explains what Lucas Digne would bring to Aston Villa if his proposed move from Everton is completed

Aston Villa are in advanced negotiations to sign Lucas Digne from Everton, with the left-back understood to favour a move to Steven Gerrard's side.

The arrival of Digne would be a coup for Villa, as they appear to have beaten off competition from Premier League rivals Chelsea, Newcastle and West Ham for the France international's signing.

Personal terms between Villa and Digne are not expected to be a problem. The Midlands side are yet to agree a fee with Everton, but it is likely to be between £20-25m.

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Everton boss Rafael Benitez confirms left-back Lucas Digne has told him he wants to leave the club

Everton are not interested in any player plus deal, they want a straight sale for Digne wherever he goes.

Digne's departure is expected this month after he had a public falling out with Everton manager Rafael Benitez over the team's tactics.

Benitez revealed this week Digne - who has 43 caps for France - had asked to leave the club. He has not played since the 4-1 home defeat to rivals Liverpool on December 1.

Villa's move for the 28-year-old is further evidence of their ambition under Gerrard, who helped to secure the eye-catching signing of his former Liverpool team-mate Philippe Coutinho earlier this week.

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Chelsea were also understood to be keen on signing Digne following Ben Chilwell's knee injury, which looks set to keep him out for the rest of the season, but they decided against following up their initial interest.

Digne joined Everton from Barcelona in August 2018 and has gone on to play over 120 games for the club.

Analysis: Digne would bring creativity boost to Villa

Sky Sports' Peter Smith:

"It will be disappointing and frustrating for Everton supporters to see Lucas Digne leave the club in the manner he will if this deal goes through. After all, for the past three and a half seasons he's been a key figure for them.

"He's recorded more assists than any other Everton player since he joined the club in the summer of 2018 and last season he created more chances than any of his team-mates, too.

"Since the start of last season among Premier League defenders, only Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson at Liverpool have created more clear-cut chances.

"And it will be that creativity that will excite Aston Villa fans.

Lucas Digne edges Aston Villa's Matt Targett in some key stats this season
Image: Lucas Digne edges Aston Villa left-back Matt Targett in some key stats this season

"Matt Targett has been a good performer for Villa in that left-back position, playing every Premier League game last season and picking up the players' player of the season prize.

"But France international Digne just edges him across some key stats this season and will bring competition for places, something boss Steven Gerrard is looking to encourage all over the pitch.

"After the significant money Villa invested in the summer and Philippe Coutinho's arrival, Digne would be another show of intent from Villa that they're looking to kick on..."

Rafa unconcerned by banner calling for exit

Benitez insists he is not worried for his future at Everton despite a banner in the away end calling for his exit during the Toffees' 3-2 FA Cup third-round win at Hull on Saturday.

Everton's victory was just their second in 13 matches, a run of form that has seen pressure rise on former Liverpool boss Benitez.

The rare win was not enough to spare the Spaniard from the fans' ire, with the banner reading 'Benitez get out of our club' visible during the game.

But when asked if he was worried, Benitez said: "No. What I said before - the problems that you try to fix are coming from a time ago.

"It's not that in the last three months we have different issues, so the issues are similar and you try to fix that.

"I have experience to do it. I will try to do my best. If some fans understand that, they will support the team. That is the main thing, to stay behind the team.

"If they don't understand that some of them, it's fine, it's up to them. But I will continue trying to do my best, be professional and be sure that we can improve what depends on us."

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