|Org||xxxx National Team|
|Club as Player||Everton FC|
2017 04 29 Retrieve
[Lucas Digne describes what it’s like to play alongside Lionel Messi on a daily basis] Messi is like that: when you think you have seen it all, he surprises you. Messi surprises me every day, and I am happy for the thought of one day telling my future children: ‘I played with Messi’. He is from another planet, and it is amazing that he has already scored more than 500 goals for Barcelona – and that’s not talking about all the assists that he has created for other players to score as well. It is truly incredible
2019 09 15 Retrieve
[Everton free-kick king Lucas Digne relishes emerging from Messi’s shadow] Taking a free kick is not some new skill that suddenly appeared out of the blue. I took free kicks when I was young, but the last time I scored one was with France Under-19 when we beat the Netherlands 6-0. I knew I could take free kicks well, I just didn’t have the chance with my previous clubs. At the elite level you know the hierarchy, and when you play in a team with absolute world-class players – legends, even - like Zlatan in PSG, Totti in at Roma and especially Messi in Barca, then there is no way that you just walk up and take the ball out of their hands before a free kick. These guys are specialists with proven records, and you accept that in football. But, of course, I always hoped that one day it would be my turn – and now it is my turn to take free kicks at Everton. I enjoy that, and I love the responsibility – every free kick is a chance of making the fans happy! It’s a great job for me, and I’m especially happy if I score, just like I’m happy delivering assists for my team-mates when they score
[Digne, though, is not about to lose sight of his primary task on the field just because he has an additional offensive responsibility] The attacking impact is a part of my job, but I am first and foremost a defender, and I have enjoyed every one of all our clean sheets in the last six months almost as much as a goal – and actually there has been many. A clean sheet is normally a defender’s variation of scoring a goal. It’s a feeling of success for both yourself and for your team. But of course it is a special feeling for me as a defender to be part of a match-winning goal – like Richarlison’s header from my cross against Wolves
[He also explained the unique excitement that each free kick situation brings] The feelings around a direct free kick are very special because it doesn’t just happen out of nowhere within a fraction of a second, like when you score from open play. There is a build-up, when you prepare yourself for the free kick, you read the positions of the wall and the goalkeeper – then you hit the ball trying to find exactly the right amount of power and precision. And then the explosion inside your own head – and in the stadium – when you see it in the net. I did not take a single free kick in Barcelona for two years, playing 46 matches, before joining Everton. Of course not, because Messi is the world’s best at free-kicks – and left footed like me. So imagine how much I enjoyed netting my first one for Everton against Watford!
[And just how much work does he put into honing the skill?] I don’t practise free-kicks every day, but once or twice a week I do practise them with Gylfi Sigurdsson
2019 09 15b Retrieve
[Bournemouth vs Everton. One major player key to their sterling start to the campaign is defender Lucas Digne, who has proved to be just as vital at the front as he is at the back] Taking a free kick is not some new skill that suddenly appeared out of the blue. I took free kicks when I was young, but the last time I scored one was with France Under-19 when we beat the Netherlands 6-0. I knew I could take free kicks well, I just didn’t have the chance with my previous clubs. At the elite level you know the hierarchy, and when you play in a team with absolute world-class players – legends, even - like Zlatan in PSG, Totti in at Roma and especially Messi in Barca, then there is no way that you just walk up and take the ball out of their hands before a free kick
2019 11 23 Retrieve
[Lucas Digne has said that he sees wearing the captain’s armband at Everton as a special honour] I must admit that it’s been a great honour for me wearing the captain’s armband for Everton. I’d only been at this club for a season when I was chosen for this, so it’s a great sign of confidence. Aside from my time with the France youth national team, I had never worn the armband, so it is special. Maybe it also shows that I’m now more mature as a player and a person. It’s a task I treat seriously – that’s for sure. We have a list of four club captains, and I was the fourth, so I thought that maybe it wouldn’t happen this season. But I also knew that it could happen, and now I have been lucky enough to get the job as captain for a few games. It makes me feel really proud – it’s a responsibility that I enjoy
[Digne has not set any specific targets personally or for the club, he says the aims for the campaign are quite straightforward] The goals are simple in the club; we must do better than last season. As an individual, it’s the same thing for me. I study my statistics, the percentage of duels won, the number of successful crosses, key passes, aerial duels won - and I always want to improve every aspect of my game
[Such figures have helped justify the player’s decision to leave Barcelona for Merseyside little over 12 months ago] When I chose to leave Barcelona in the summer of 2018, it was a difficult choice for me, but it was really important for me to come to a club where I would be able to develop myself playing every weekend - and I am enjoying that. In Barcelona, I was probably seen as a defensive alternative to Jordi Alba, but in Everton I am expected to be very offensive. This again involves many duels in defence one against one because the matches are very open with a lot of end-to-end stuff. I enjoy this style of football a lot.
In my second season with Barca, I did not play enough in my own opinion, and even though it’s not bad playing 46 matches over two seasons for what in my opinion is the greatest club in the world, I had to look at myself in the mirror and make this decision to leave Barca in order to move to the next level personally. Now every week there is a new and challenging game in the Premier League, and it makes you a better player. The key to handling this is to take care of yourself, to focus on training, when you are at Finch Farm, and on recovery, when you are home. Modern football in England is a 24/7 lifestyle, not a 9-to-5 job, and it involves every moment and aspect of your life, like food, sleep and generally good, healthy habits
[Further credence to Digne’s surge at Everton has been given by a recall to the national team] I believe that the stability of playing every week for Everton in the Premier League has helped me to perform well for France. I am happy to play for my country and I feel proud that I have done so many times. To qualify for the Euros is a step on the way. We have a great group of players, and our ambitions with Les Bleus - a bit funny that both my teams are in blue - are obviously very big. When we enter a tournament, we want to win every game. But we know that the competition is great and other countries go into the Euros to win it. So it really is one step at a time
2020 05 04 Retrieve
[Lucas Digne says Carlo Ancelotti can take Everton to the Champions League] To finish in Europe for sure. We have to finish very high. If we could finish in Europe, it would be best for the club and the fans. We are building something, we are building a project. We have very good players. In a few years, they have bought a lot of players, they have invested a lot. We have to finish in the top four, top five, and to play the Champions League.
We are building a very good project. We can do something very special and very good. We can do better than last year (eighth) and maybe finish in Europe this year. We have something special at Goodison Park. We have the fans, they are behind us every time, everywhere. We have something special in the club because we are a big family and if we can transform results on the pitch, it would be amazing. Everybody is giving their best and we will see what happens. We have to keep this mentality and to do our best every time and I am sure we will finish very high
My stats are very good but I can do better. I think you can do better every day and I work for that. I want to do my best. I try to perform every time and to do better
2020 07 10 Retrieve
[Lucas Digne on Carlo Ancelotti] When you read his name that he’s officially appointed as Everton manager, you think ‘wow, okay. Something is coming.’ It’s just a pleasure to play for him as a coach. He’s really close to the players. He’s really calm, and I think we need that. It transfers across to the team. When he has something to say, he’ll say it to all the group, and when he’s angry too. I think he has a very good relationship with the group. He’s the boss! He won three Champions Leagues, he has a lot of experience. He can give a lot of advice to the players, you can learn a lot from him. I think all the players listen very carefully to what he says. If you learn you can be better, and with him I think we can build something very good
[Digne thinks a return to Champions League football] The next year, or in two years, I think we can fight for it. We are a young team, we need a little bit of time, but I think we can do something. If you want to do something good, you have to take your time, keep a lot of the same players, you need a good relationship between them, and if you have to buy players, make sure you do that right. I think the club are doing that, taking our time, but building something and in a few years, I think like what Tottenham did, why can’t we do that too? We have a lot of young players, with good quality. The club bought a lot a few years ago, the year with me, Richarlison, Andre Gomes, Yerry Mina, and sometimes you need a bit of stability and I think we can do something good.
I needed to play, they said I could enjoy life in England because the Premier League will be perfect for me, the high intensity and the challenge, and I was thinking the same. After I chose to come to Everton, when I arrived for my first game against Valencia, the welcome was amazing. It’s different for the weather, but it’s a football city. You feel the football is everything here. That’s what I want, when you play for Everton, you know you have a lot of fans behind you. We know our fans are so important for us when we play at home, for us against the opponent for sure, because they make a lot of noise. Maybe against Southampton we missed them, they push and they push and can intimidate the opponent. I feel good. I’m happy, I have a lot of responsibility, I’m happy the coach has given me this responsibility. I’m enjoying since I’ve arrived, I play every game, if we can finish in the Europa League it will be fantastic.
[Ancelotti’s influence on Digne has been a demanding one] He’s asked me to be more high, to go back in defence, I have to run a lot! But I love it. For me it’s perfect. I can play maybe a little bit more free, and this role is perfect for me. The intensity is very different, it’s very high in England, the challenges are very strong, you might see a striker make a challenge which you might not in France.