Chelsea needs to move for Everton star in January transfer window

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 21: Lucas Digne of Everton takes a throw in during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Everton at Etihad Stadium on November 21, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 21: Lucas Digne of Everton takes a throw in during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Everton at Etihad Stadium on November 21, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images) /

Multiple key factors have contributed to Chelsea’s collapse over the last few weeks. The most recent COVID-19 outbreak has hit the Blues particularly hard, which doesn’t exactly create a recipe for success when mixed with the injury bug that’s been plaguing them all season long. Furthermore, games coming fast and furious have hindered Thomas Tuchel as his options for rotation are limited. Even after taking all of this into consideration, it’s no coincidence that Chelsea’s annual December downfall began a few days early this year. More specifically, the moment Ben Chilwell came off the pitch with a potentially season-ending injury.

Although it took Chilwell a little while to get going this year, he was arguably the Blues’ best player once he made his way into the starting XI. Tuchel revolutionized the way Chelsea approached the attacking phase of the game this season, including his wingbacks in a lot of the play. The Englishman played in just six Premier League matches, but racked up three goals and an assist during that time period. It’s no wonder the Blues are feeling his absence right now. Therefore, as the January transfer window approaches and Chilwell’s status for the remainder of the year hangs in the balance, Chelsea must move for an Everton star to cover the position in Chilwell’s absence.

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Chelsea needs to move for Everton left back Lucas Digne in the January window

Toffees star left back, Lucas Digne, has been in the news a lot recently after a very public falling out with manager Rafa Benitez. For one reason or another, the Spaniard doesn’t prefer to play with Digne in his starting XI, which has caused the club to transfer list him. This seems relatively rash considering the writing is seemingly on the wall for Benitez’s exit sooner rather than later. Nevertheless, if Everton is already convinced Digne’s future at Goodison Park is short lived, the Blues would be silly not to at least inquire about the versatile left-sided defender.

The Toffees already have completed an agreement to sign Ukrainian left back Vitalij Mykolenko as Digne’s replacement, all but confirming the Frenchman’s departure. This means Digne could leave in January with rumors stating Everton prefers a loan with an option to buy. Chelsea should be foaming at the mouth over this as Chilwell’s long-term status remains unclear. Marcos Alonso started the season well but he hasn’t cut it as of late. For this reason, it’d make sense to bring in a player who is similar to Chilwell in play style and Digne is almost a carbon copy of the Englishman. A loan with an option to buy allows all three sides to test the waters. Digne could experience life in SW6 without making a long-term commitment, the Blues could use half a season to see how the 28-year-old fits into Tuchel’s team and Everton could get the out-of-favor defender off their books without closing the door on a potential return post-Benitez.

While this move seems like a step in the wrong direction for Digne in his prime, it’s anything but that in reality. Chelsea offers him something no other club in Europe can at the moment: the opportunity to play for the reigning UEFA Champions League winners. Furthermore, while he will remain second on the depth chart behind Chilwell when both are fit, that doesn’t mean as much as many would think. Alonso—who currently deputizes the 25-year-old—has played in 21 games this season (12 of which when Chilwell was fit), racking up nearly 1,700 minutes in that time.

Digne would get an opportunity to get forward more often too, which is something many have wanted to see out of the talented left back for awhile now. He’s racked up 14 goals and 32 assists in his 301 career games at left back for teams like Barcelona, Everton, Lille, Paris Saint-Germain and Roma. Tuchel’s tutelage and a more attack-oriented left wingback role could get the best out of Digne. It’d also provide an opportunity for the Blues to play with more fluidity going forward. They have lost a bit of their vertical threat without Chilwell, moving to a more flat and predictable horizontal build-up. Digne’s excellent movement and passing ability offer a contrasting style to the methodical actions of Alonso. This could also benefit the Blues’ talisman, Romelu Lukaku.

Digne as a No. 2 to Chilwell seems like a pipe dream for a team that was in search of just one quality left fullback just two seasons ago. Now, the opportunity has presented itself and Chelsea has the chance to turn dreams into reality. Digne is there for the taking and although there will be competition for his signature, the Blues need to put their money where their mouth is to lure Digne to Stamford Bridge. This potential move could change the trajectory of the entire season.

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