These articles are dual-focused, analysing a player’s role at their club from a footballing perspective before considering whether that information translates into them being a viable consideration for our FPL teams. This instalment discusses Everton defender Lucas Digne.
Having spent the last six seasons at PSG, Roma and Barcelona, it was easy to assume that Lucas Digne’s career had plateaued following an £18 million summer switch to Everton. However, the last 12 months have suggested anything but, as the Frenchman was one of the Premier League’s most consistent left-backs in 2018/19, only behind Andy Robertson and perhaps Ben Chilwell. Those performances have seen a return to the France squad too, following his omission from the 2018 World Cup triumph.
Digne’s strengths going forward certainly fit those required of a modern full-back, especially at a club like Everton that demands attacking football. With Bernard often drifting inside, Digne has the freedom of the left wing to pick out the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. This has allowed Digne to be extremely productive from open-play and aided by set-pieces, he created a total of 71 chances last season, more than any other defender. Nobody else even got close with Robertson a distant second on 50.
However, those chances did not always provide presentable goalscoring opportunities. An xA of 5.26 was third to Alexander-Arnold and Robertson, who in turn racked up three times as many assists thanks to the clinical finishing of Salah, Mane and co.
From an FPL perspective, this is potentially vital information. The chances created figure does not tell the whole story as the quality of those chances and the quality of Everton’s attacking players meant that they did not translate into nearly as many assists as Alexander-Arnold or Robertson managed.
Everton’s weaknesses defensively also have to be taken into account. The final 11 matches of the season did demonstrate significant improvement with only seven goals conceded, the same number as Liverpool. However, continuing in that vein across an entire season is a huge ask. Securing the services of Kurt Zouma on a permanent basis is close to a necessity, based on the understanding he and Michael Keane developed towards the end of the season.
Whilst this and the somewhat critical assessment of Everton’s opening fixtures may suggest that Digne does not warrant a place in FPL squads, this is merely a case of highlighting areas of weakness alongside his obvious strengths. It is very easy to see the information you want to see but the fact is, Digne is not Robertson, he’s not Alexander-Arnold and he does not play for Liverpool, a side so efficient at both ends of the pitch. But at £1.0m cheaper, none of those things are required. An asset that can pretty much be held until the first wildcard, whenever that may be, is a rare commodity at £6.0m.
To summarise, Lucas Digne has established himself as one of the Premier League’s best left-backs since joining from Barcelona last August. He has all the traits of the typical modern full-back, particularly offensively as the division’s top creator in his position. That all translates into him being an excellent FPL asset, as long as Everton can continue to be as defensively solid as they were during the final three months of the season.