Premier League • England

Everton backed to milk Aston Villa for huge fee as they finalise transfer negotiations

Rafael Benitez speaking to Everton pair Lucas Digne and Demarai Gray

Everton have been backed to milk Aston Villa for a huge transfer fee as the two clubs get close to agreeing a deal for Lucas Digne.

Left-back Digne, 28, has been searching for a route out of Goodison Park after falling out with Toffees manager Rafa Benitez. And it looks as if he has found his January exit after Villa moved quickly to beat the competition to his signature.

Sky Sports report Steven Gerrard is set to get his man with negotiations advanced.

They claim a fee is yet to be agreed, however. And with Digne having over three years left on his Everton contract, former England defender Danny Mills has claimed the Toffees are in the driving seat.

“He’s a French international, he’s a fantastic player,” Mills told Football Insider.

“Something’s obviously gone wrong at Everton, there’s obviously been a bit of a falling out. He doesn’t want to be there, Rafa Benitez doesn’t want him there.

“He’s not really been involved at all. It looks like they are going to try and cash in either now or in the summer. Assuming Rafa Benitez is still there in the summer.

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“They’d probably be looking at getting a bid of £30million to get him out there. I can see them getting that.

“They’re not desperate for cash, they don’t have to let him go. It’s not going to do Everton any damage if they sit and wait until the summer.

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“He’s only just signed a new contract so they can sit there and say ‘Unless we get the money that we want you’re not going, simple as that’.

“Everton are still in a strong position at the moment.

“Unless the money is right they can say to him ‘You’re going to have to hang around until the summer until we get the money that is right’.”

Digne has change of heart

Digne had knocked back an approach from Newcastle earlier in the week. At the time it was reported he would prefer a move to London.

Both Chelsea and West Ham, who each have their own defensive injury issues, had expressed an interest upon learning of his availability.

But neither have since acted on that. And Sky’s report states that the France international now favours joining Villa.

Therefore, personal terms are not expected to be an issue. All that matters now is whether those above Gerrard’s head can reach an agreement with his current club.

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