Premier League • England

Everton close in on £15m Aston Villa raid as footnote to Lucas Digne deal

Samuel Bannister
John McGinn and Anwar El Ghazi, Aston Villa

Everton are close to taking Anwar El Ghazi from Aston Villa in a separate operation to the Lucas Digne transfer, according to various reports.

The two clubs have been negotiating a transfer for left-back Digne, who is unhappy at Everton. The Toffees have already brought in Vitaliy Mykolenko to replace him. As such, it seems a matter of time before Digne’s transfer to Villa becomes official.

But he may not be the only player moving between the two clubs this month. Several sources are reporting that El Ghazi is ready to move in the opposite direction.

The news has been reported by the likes of the BBCtalkSPORT, the Daily Telegraph and The Athletic.

El Ghazi has been a Villa player since 2018, when he joined them on an initial loan deal from Lille. The transfer became permanent upon their promotion to the Premier League by the end of that season.

Villa got four league goals out of El Ghazi from his first season in the English top flight. Then, last term, he contributed 10 goals in the competition.

But this season, his gametime has reduced. Indeed, El Ghazi has only started four league matches so far, making a further five substitute appearances. He has scored once so far, plus two goals from two in the Carabao Cup.

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Now, it seems as if his stint at Villa Park is over. Everton have enquired over the winger’s availability and the BBC report that a deal can be done for around £15m.

According to The Athletic, a permanent deal is preferable but a loan is not ruled out either. They reiterate the operation is separate to Digne’s move.

Villa have just brought in extra competition for El Ghazi’s place in the shape of Philippe Coutinho. Therefore, the 26-year-old is unlikely to feature heavily in their plans.

Everton, though, want to add one more winger. El Ghazi could be the latest wide man to join Everton during the Rafael Benitez era. The manager also brought in Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend in the summer.

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El Ghazi’s potential switch comes as a footnote to the Digne transfer saga, which is about to conclude.

According to reports on Monday, Digne has already agreed personal terms at Villa Park with a long-term deal likely.

Steven Gerrard was asked about the prospects of signing Digne following the FA Cup exit at Manchester United.

And the former Rangers boss was clearly happy to drop a big tease that his capture is imminent.

“We are working hard on targets,” said Gerrard.

“It is not respectful to mention any names but there is no smoke without fire. We want to try and improve certain areas of our team and our squad.”

Reports indicate Digne will sign a three-and-a-half-year deal at Villa Park. And many will view the player as an automatic starter and upgrade on current left-back option Matt Targett.

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