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Gerrard 'excited' by Digne's arrival at Aston Villa as El Ghazi heads to Everton

Aston Villa have completed their second signing of the January window, while the Toffees make their third this month.

Updated Jan 13th 2022, 5:10 PM

lucas-digne-of-france-during-the-fifa-world-cup-qatar-2022-qualifiers-group-d-football-match-between-france-and-bosnia-and-herzegovina-on-september-1-2021-at-stade-de-la-meinau-in-strasbourg-franc Lucas Digne is a France international. Source: Alamy Stock Photo

LUCAS DIGNE HAS completed his move to Aston Villa from Everton.

The left-back joins in a deal rising to £25million (€30m) after falling out with Toffees boss Rafael Benitez.

The French international becomes Villa’s second January signing after Philippe Coutinho’s loan arrival from Barcelona.

Villa boss Steven Gerrard told the club’s official site: “When Lucas became available we jumped at the opportunity to bring him to the club.

To sign a player of his pedigree and quality in the January window is a great addition to our squad and his arrival excites me and everyone associated with Aston Villa.”

Digne, who moved to Goodison Park from Barcelona in August 2018, said in a post on Instagram on Wednesday evening he has “loved to be a part of the Everton family”.

Benitez confirmed last week the 28-year-old had said he no longer wanted to play for the club.

Digne added: “Only one year ago I signed a new contract with the ambition of staying in this club for a long time, giving everything for my club, for the development and project, that I believed in – and for the passionate fans.

“My dream was helping the club back where it belongs. Wearing the captain’s armband in some matches always made me proud.

“Everything must come to an end. I just did not expect it to end this way. What has happened and some things that was said about me in the last month has made me very sad. But I will not enter a war on words with anyone.”

The defender had not played since the Merseyside derby defeat on 1 December after a fall-out with the manager over tactics and his role in the team.

Benitez was critical of Digne’s attitude, saying: “We are paid big money to do our job and if someone is happy or not happy it is (still) up to you to perform in your job.

“You have to put your interests behind the interests of the club. If you are not thinking about that the priority is you and not the team.”

Meanwhile, Villa winger Anwar El Ghazi has sealed a loan move in the other direction — agreeing a switch to Goodison Park until the end of the season. 

The 26-year-old Dutchman is the third player added to the Toffees squad this month, following deals for Ukrainian left-back Vitalii Mykolenko from Dynamo Kiev and Scottish right-back Nathan Patterson from Rangers.

“I’m really excited. Everton is a big club, I cannot wait to get started,” El Ghazi said.

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“I want to show my quality to my team-mates, to the club and, of course, the fans. I want to put a smile on their faces.

“I’m ready and willing to work hard for it and for all of us to work together.

“I’ve met a few fans already and it’s great to see how people live for the club. It’s basically their religion. You just want to give it your all and show them what you can do to make them happy.

I just want to focus on working hard, getting into the team, fighting for my place and, with the boys, to get Everton where it belongs – that is much higher up the table. We have a really good squad.

“I can always score a goal in an important moment. I can add a lot of value with my pace and technique going forward. I can hold the ball and I am decent in one-on-ones. I am ready and can’t wait.

“If I can score goals like the one I scored against Everton, for Everton now, then I will be a happy man.”

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