The left-back has explained how his mentality helped him bounce back from a nasty injury in half the time expected
Everton defender Lucas Digne has revealed the opportunity to get back playing was all the motivation he needed to make a speedy recovery from a fractured ankle.
The France international left-back had been expected to miss up to six weeks because of the training-ground injury but in fact returned in half that time.
And Digne exploded back to life in the Premier League as he created a goal in his side’s 2-1 victory over Wolves.
“In my mind I never accepted to be out for two or three months,” he told Goal. “I was tackled from behind in training and was very unfortunate. I know that a fractured ankle and torn ligaments are potentially a very bad injury, but in my mindset it was not.
“I always thought that this would not be a big mountain I had to climb – just a little hill, where I could run to the top. And when you set your mind to do something, then your body gets stronger – at least I believe that.
“I always want to be on the pitch, of course – to help my team and my club, to make the fans proud. So to be injured is hell. But actually, in some strange way I enjoyed the hard work to get back even stronger – and I have worked on other parts of my body – to get back better.”
Meanwhile, he was delighted to return with his fifth assist of the season in just nine league outings.
“I was so happy to get back in the Premier League with a win against Wolves, and personally of course with an assist,” he said. “It was an amazing feeling to be honest.”
Such remarkable figures are, he says, down to his industry on the training ground.
“Of course, I develop all the time as a player – and as a person,” he said. “Every day in training I work hard to improve every small detail in my football. Also with assists and key passes.
“But honestly, I believe that I have just continued my style and my form from my first two seasons at Everton.
“This was exactly my ambition when I chose to leave Barcelona. It was not easy to leave Barca because they wanted me to stay, but personally it was not enough in my two seasons there to play 20 and 26 games per season even though we had an amazing team.
“I needed to play every game – and I have done that since I arrived in England and found exactly what I was searching for in Everton’s exciting project to build a great future.”
And Digne is revelling in playing for Carlo Ancelotti’s high-flying side.
“I enjoy the style in the Premier League and at Everton – just like I enjoyed the Barca style,” he said. “They are two very different ways of playing football, but both are good for me. Playing in different clubs, with different styles, and in top leagues has helped me develop my game.
“Here in England, I can get a lot of crosses into the box, and I like to do that. We did not play like that in Barca.
“This season I am not taking as many free-kicks and corners as I did in my first two years at Everton. I have delivered key passes and assists from these set-pieces, so I am happy to continue delivering assists now from open play, and to help the team in this way is important for me.
“Actually, I focus on key passes, because I can control those – I can’t control if they become assists. I am happy when my foot gives a key pass, and of course it counts a lot more if a team-mate turns it into a goal – but my pass is basically the same if we score or not.”
Digne’s offensive attributes have clearly caught his manager’s eye, because he was moved into a more advanced role for the Wolves clash.
“All teams must be able to play in different ways. I believe that the ability to have different tactical variations makes you a stronger team. I am a left-back but I play where my manager needs me to play, and where I can help my team,” he said before discussing his ambitions for the season.
“I have always played in the Champions League – with Lille, PSG, Roma and Barca, so of course I hope that we will be able to qualify for that tournament. It would be terrific for the club, the players, and especially for the fans.
“However, the competition for these spots is fierce. The Evertonians deserve this experience. There is no doubt that our ambition is to qualify for Europe, and right now we are in the right spot in the table to do that, and we must continue to develop as a team also to finish here.”
Everton currently sit sixth in the Premier League table, with two games in hand due to coronavirus-enforced scheduling changes, and next face Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup on Sunday.