Pundit calls for ‘exceptional’ Everton to return this weekend

Lewis Oldham
Everton star Lucas Digne

Noel Whelan has called for Everton to recall their “exceptional” defender Lucas Digne this weekend despite him reportedly having a “fractious” relationship with Rafael Benitez.

It was reported earlier this week that the Frenchman has a “fractious” relationship with the Everton head coach. 

Digne has been a standout player for Everton since he joined them in 2018 from Barcelona.

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His form has dipped this term, though. He has only registered one assist and that came in the Carabao Cup.

The Toffees face Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in the Premier League this weekend.

As quoted by Football Insider, Whelan has suggested that Digne can “go out and win games” for Everton:

“Obviously Everton got the win the other night. It wasn’t a very convincing win. Really, it was a win where they stopped the rot.

“It is a statement of intent from the manager to ask the players to play his way.

“At the same time, it’s quite a risky game when you’ve got a really top-quality wing-back that you need in your side.

“He’s been exceptional since the time that he joined Everton. His quality going forward. Would you really want to hold him back when he’s got that left foot? It is like a wand at times?

“He’s got that attacking presence you need to go out and win games.

“Right now, with the run that they’ve been on, yes, it’s a win and yes, it’s a positive.

“But at the same time you need to be putting out your best players. He’s certainly one of those.”

Elsewhere, Benitez has insisted that he does not have a problem with working under a director of football:

“I have been in football so many years. Normally in Spain and Italy you have a director of football, so I don’t have any issue with a director of football.

“It’s just to make sure we choose the right one for Everton, and then hopefully we can be successful with that.

“My main job is to concentrate on the games, that is very clear but at the same time, the club is trying to manage the new structure.

“Obviously you keep an eye on that, but my priority is just the games.

“We have conversations all the time, it’s one thing we’re doing regularly. We’re talking about ideas and after the owner and the board will decide which way they want to go.

“At the moment for me it’s giving my feedback if I have to do it, and concentrating on the games.

“We know more or less what we want, the point is getting what you want.

“The transfer window is always difficult, but January is even more. We’re trying to concentrate on the games that we have now ahead, while at the same time keeping an eye on the transfer window.”