Digne: I left Barcelona because Everton gave me the ‘wow’ factor

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The France international had no intention of leaving Camp Nou, until he was charmed by Toffees boss Marco Silva

Lucas Digne has revealed that he elected to leave Barcelona in the summer and join Everton because the club gave him a ‘wow’ factor.

The 25-year-old left-back has earned a France recall for the forthcoming matches against Netherlands and Uruguay thanks to his excellent early season form with the Toffees, for whom he has already turned out 10 times in the Premier League.

While he admitted it was a wrench to leave Barcelona, he felt the challenge Marco Silva laid down to him at Goodison Park was too attractive to turn down.

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“I wasn’t really planning to leave Barca and they were not looking to sell me, but when I spoke to Everton manager Marco Silva on the phone I got this special feeling,” he told Goal . “He really lit a fire inside of me and I thought: ‘Wow! I really want to play for this club and manager.’

“Then I went to Barca and asked them to please let me go. After a few talks, they accepted, that this was my wish. I am thankful for that, because now I feel happy in Everton.

“Barca was my childhood dream, so yes, it was difficult to leave, because I could have stayed to continue a great life in the club and the city. The club wanted me to stay.

"But I am 25 years old now and in a phase of my career, where I want to play every week, have a bigger role in the team and feel the full confidence of the coach. So I could not turn down the Everton project. 

“I was only 22 when I signed for Barca, and it was the perfect place to develop myself. In my two years at Camp Nou I played 46 games for what I consider the greatest club in the world, training every day with the very top players in the world, like Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Neymar and so many more. 

“Of course, I am a better player now. I enjoyed both seasons in Barca tremendously and chose to leave after a great season, winning the double in Spain, playing fantastic football, and for me personally developing as a player.”

Eden Hazard Lucas Digne Chelsea vs Everton Premier League 2018-19

The move to Everton, however, has proven to be richly rewarding, with the former Lille, Roma and Paris Saint-Germain player, already a veteran of more than 200 appearances in Europe’s top leagues, thrilled by the intensity of the Premier League challenge.

“Getting into the Premier League has been a pleasure,” he added. “Football is great everywhere - and different. I’ve learned a lot and developed myself as a player and as a person from these different experiences in different countries.

“Both the Premiership and La Liga are top class, but the difference is the incredible intensity during the game. In the Premier League there are challenges all the time and it’s full speed ahead every week. 

“The style of football gives me a lot of pleasure. It is very physical and box-to-box for 90 minutes, and I enjoy going forward and getting a lot of crosses into the box. It is also intense because of the supporters, not only in the home games but also away, where they are simply fantastic. They give you extra power on the pitch.”  

Digne revealed that settling at his new club has been straightforward due to the welcoming nature of the squad.

“I feel fantastic with Everton and in English football,” he said. “It has been a super start to life in the Premiership, and the everyday life in the club gives me an extraordinarily good feeling. 

“For me it was great to join other French speaking guys like Kurt Zouma and Morgan Schneiderlin, who I know from Les Bleus - and Idrissa Gueye, who I knew for six or seven years in Lille. But in general, we have a great group of players both on and off the pitch.”

And that group is finding its rhythm in the Premier League, in which they sit ninth. The left-back is confident that the team will continue to improve as the weeks go by.

“The recent results show our progress,” he said, reflecting on the last six matches. “We have done well with four league wins and only one defeat - and our latest game was a 0-0 draw away against Chelsea. It was a tough game, but we fought well and got a deserved point and a great clean sheet in a difficult stadium.

Lucas Digne France 2018

“It is still early days for us as a team with many new players and a completely new style of football for the club with a new manager. But there is a great appetite for success, and the manager has an extremely good mentality and a great idea of football. I believe, that now every player understands what he wants. 

“The manager and his staff have been working hard to implement the new style, and we as players have also been working hard both in training and in the matches. And that is why we are improving as a team and we are now getting good results. 

“The next step is to believe in ourselves even more in the games against the biggest teams in the league because then the future will look bright for Everton. We are a club with huge traditions and a great history, and most of all we want to give our supporters something new to celebrate.”

Though Digne’s immediate thoughts are with the France national side, the Toffees face Cardiff City on November 24 before the Merseyside derby against Liverpool follows on December 2.

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