Signed for £18m, now worth £31.5m: Brands struck gold over "exceptional" Everton gem - opinion

© Provided by Football FanCast Lucas Digne, Toffees, Everton, Premier League, Goodison Park, Marcel Brands,

When it comes to left-sided defenders, Everton have been extremely fortunate over the last decade or so.

At first, the Toffees had the ever-reliable and consistent Leighton Baines in their ranks.

The former England international was a wonderful presence at left-back, pioneering what has become a staple of modern football; an offensive full-back.

Baines was a capable defender but gift him the ball inside the penalty area or just over 18 yards from goal and you were in trouble.

The defender scored 39 times for Everton, primarily from dead-ball situations, while he also created 67 strikes for his teammates.

However, back in the summer of 2018, the club made attempts to replace him.

It was Marcel Brands’ first summer as the club’s director of football and one of his greatest investments from that year is still at the club.

That happens to be Lucas Digne, a player cut from a similar cloth as Baines.

The left-back hails from Paris rather than Merseyside but his free-kick taking ability is similarly marvellous.

He signed for a fee of £18m three years ago and has gone from strength to strength since. Never really afforded a proper opportunity at Barcelona, he has become one of the most exciting defenders in the Premier League.

Speaking about the Frenchman last term, Jamie Redknapp said: “You need good quality, you need good crosses, they need to have assists and he [Digne] is an exceptional player.

“He puts it into great areas all the time, a little bit like Robertson. He looks like the sort of lad you want in your team because he gets stuck in as well. He can play in a back three as well.”

Linked with Manchester City in the last year, it’s fair to say that Brands struck gold in bringing the full-back to Goodison Park.

Now rated at £31.5m via Transfermarkt, Digne’s transfer value has risen considerably by £13.5m after arriving in English football.

A move away might well cost any willing suitor more but it’s evident to see why. He is a rampant threat down the left and has contributed five goals and 20 assists in 117 outings for the club.

The archetypal modern defender, Digne has a wonderful technique that separates him from many other players who feature in the same role.

Providing they can keep at the club in the next few years, he will be vital to Rafa Benitez’s ambitions of bringing European football back to Goodison.

AND in other news, Rafa must swoop for “special” £25m gem who’s terrorised Everton…

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