Rafa Benitez has accused Lucas Digne of putting his own interests “ahead of the team” after confirming he’s requested a move away from Everton.
The Frenchman has not featured for Benitez since the pair experienced a high-profile falling out last month and interest in Digne is rife. 90min understands that Newcastle, Leicester, Chelsea and West Ham are all considering a move for the defender, who seems unlikely to feature while the current manager is in place at Goodison Park.
Benitez provided an update on Digne’s future in a press conference prior to his side’s FA Cup meeting with Hull City on Saturday, and appeared to dig at his player for his lack of commitment while confirming that he’s requested a transfer.
“We have some conversations. He told me what he thought. So what do you expect the manager to do when a player is thinking about leaving?” Benitez said.
“We need commitment. We don’t need enquiries. I am not in charge of the negotiations but when someone is asking, they have to commit themselves and say ‘I will buy’.”
Asked why he thought Digne was trying to force his way out of Everton, Benitez insisted that he was unsure of his motives, adding: “I have no explanation. We are professionals, we are paid big money to do our job… In modern football, maybe the priorities have changed & people think about themselves ahead of the team.
“The 31st January, if he’s here then we have to start doing what we have to do. At the moment, in his head, he has what he has & we have to deal with the players that are here.”
Benitez also confirmed that Everton are yet to receive a bid, remarking: “As a manager you try to do the best for your club & sometimes it’s against you. We were trying to manage the situation. There is interest but nothing concrete. What I cannot do is bring players who want to be here & give priority to those who are not interested.”
In terms of where Digne may end up, 90min understands that Newcastle are pushing hard for a swift, permanent deal, while the rest of his suitors are only interested in taking the player on loan.
The Magpies have already spoken to Everton about a player-plus-cash deal which would involve Sean Longstaff going in the opposite direction. However, like many of Newcastle’s other January targets, Digne is not convinced by a move to St James’ at this time.
Instead, he’s hopeful that Chelsea will seek cover for the injured Ben Chilwell, although any bid from Thomas Tuchel’s side is likely to come in the form of a loan. West Ham are also interested in Digne because of an injury to Aaron Cresswell, although the club remain optimistic he will return from a back problem soon.
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