Everton’s Lucas Digne ‘loves’ free-kick duties after time in Lionel Messi’s shadow at Barcelona

France international scored stunning free-kick in Toffees' League Cup win over Lincoln last month

Alex Pattle
Sunday 15 September 2019 12:23 BST
Everton: 2019/20 Premier League season preview

Full-back Lucas Digne has revealed his excitement at playing a greater part in taking free-kicks at Everton, having previously had to leave the duty to more senior players at other clubs.

The France international has already scored directly from a free-kick this season – against Lincoln in a 4-2 League Cup win – and has said that finally being able to use that sort of ability has been rewarding for him.

“Taking a free-kick is not some new skill that suddenly appeared out of the blue,” Digne said.

“I took free-kicks when I was young, but the last time I scored one was with France Under-19 when we beat the Netherlands 6-0.

“I knew I could take free-kicks well, I just didn’t have the chance with my previous clubs. At the elite level you know the hierarchy, and when you play in a team with absolute world-class players – legends, even – like Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] in PSG, [Francesco] Totti at Roma and especially [Lionel] Messi in Barca, then there is no way that you just walk up and take the ball out of their hands before a free-kick.

“These guys are specialists with proven records, and you accept that in football. But, of course, I always hoped that one day it would be my turn, and now it is my turn to take free-kicks at Everton. I enjoy that and I love the responsibility – every free-kick is a chance of making the fans happy!”

Digne, 26, said that the shadow of Messi was the hardest to emerge from.

“I did not take a single free-kick in Barcelona for two years, playing 46 matches, before joining Everton. Of course not, because Messi is the world’s best at free-kicks – and left footed like me.

“So imagine how much I enjoyed netting my first one for Everton!

“The feelings around a direct free-kick are very special, because it doesn’t just happen out of nowhere within a fraction of a second, like when you score from open play.

Digne is relishing his opportunities at taking free-kicks (Getty)

“There is a build-up – when you prepare yourself for the free-kick, you read the positions of the wall and the goalkeeper, then you hit the ball, trying to find exactly the right amount of power and precision.

“And then the explosion inside your own head – and in the stadium – when you see it in the net.”

Digne will hope to have more opportunities to put his free-kick prowess to use as his side take on Bournemouth in the Premier League on Sunday.

The game will be shown live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League at 2pm BST, as well as on the Sky Go app.

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