Aston Villa close to completing signing of Lucas Digne from Everton

Aston Villa are close to completing the signing of Lucas Digne from Everton, who have inquired about taking Anwar El Ghazi on loan for the rest of the season.

Digne has attracted interest from several Premier League clubs since his fall out with Rafael Benítez, including Newcastle and Chelsea, but the France international had no interest in joining Eddie Howe’s relegation-threatened side and the European champions have not made a firm bid for the left-back.

Villa, egter, have emerged as a more attractive proposition for the 28-year-old and negotiations have advanced in recent days. Everton had been seeking around £25m for the defender, who they signed for £18m from Barcelona in 2018, although they have now registered interest in Villa’s El Ghazi.

The Netherlands winger has found his game-time limited under both Dean Smith and Steven Gerrard this season and has made only four Premier League starts. Villa value the 26-year-old at £15m but Everton would prefer a loan deal for the former Ajax and Lille player.

El Ghazi would become Everton’s third signing of the January window should a move proceed. The club spent an initial £29m on two full-backs, Vitalii Mykolenko en Nathan Patterson, and Benítez remains keen on strengthening his options in central midfield.

The Everton manager accused Digne of putting his own interests before those of the team in a stinging attack last week and has not selected him since the derby defeat by Liverpool on 1 Desember.

One deal Villa have secured is that of Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian midfielder joins the club on loan for the rest of the season having successfully obtained a work permit and reunites with Gerrard, who he played alongside at Liverpool.

“It’s a pleasure to be here; it’s a great club,” said Coutinho. “I spoke a lot with the manager, with Stevie, and he told me about the club and his ambitions. I’m very happy to be here and I’m looking to enjoy my football.

“I’ve known Stevie for a long time. I played with him and I learned a lot from him. He’s someone who I have big admiration for. I hope to do my best here. For sure, I will work hard, and I hope together we can do good work.”

Coutinho could be handed his Villa debut against Manchester United on Saturday. “I’m looking forward to meeting the fans, to being on the pitch,” the 29-year-old added. “I know and I feel that they’re happy that I’m here.”

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