Jurgen Klopp has hailed Lucas Digne as a ‘young Leighton Baines’ and believes this is the strongest side Everton have had during his time at Liverpool.
Klopp is unbeaten in Merseyside derbies during his three-year tenure at Anfield, winning four and drawing twice, but believes the likes of Lucas Digne and Richarlison will pose a much bigger threat than he has ever faced in this fixture.
How good is Lucas Digne? Five key things to know:
- He joined Barcelona in 2016 but failed to overhaul Jordi Alba at left-back, amid reports Lionel Messi requested Digne be sold.
- Digne joined Everton this summer for £18m, along with Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes (loan).
- He has gone on to create more chances than any other Premier League player this season (22).
- Leighton Baines has provided 53 assists in the Premier League; Ashley Young, who was previously a winger, is the only defender in competition history with more (68).
- Digne is expected to retain his starting place over Baines against Klopp’s Liverpool this Sunday at Anfield, where Everton haven’t won since 1999.
Everton are seeking to end a run of 19 years without a win at Anfield, while they haven’t managed a win against Liverpool at all since their 2-0 Goodison Park victory in 2010.
But Klopp has his guard up heading into Sunday’s clash, believing Lucas Digne’s effect on Everton’s left wing has a big part to play in his improvement this season.
“Since I’m in here, Everton was always really busy but now it is the best-tuned squad … 100 per cent,” Klopp told reporters in his press conference on Friday.
“[Seamus] Coleman is back and fit. [Michael] Keane settled and fit, Mina is a brilliant player, very important for the build-up and everything and [Lucas] Digne is like the young [Leighton] Baines if you will.”
The former Borussia Dortmund manager was also very complimentary of some of Everton’s other summer signings, believing Marco Silva has assembled ‘creative’ side that also has ‘speed and good organisation’.
Asked about Richarlison, Klopp added: “What a player he is. Last year [Theo] Walcott came in, very good. Bernard came in this year, [Andre] Gomes came in this year, [Yerry] Mina came in this year.
“One or two years ago they talked about Rooney coming back, Sigurdsson coming in, but then it was said they can’t play together, they have a lack of speed, but now they have everything there. Creativity, speed, good organisation.”
Lucas Digne: One of the Premier League’s most underrated players right now?
“Liverpool fans are angry that I said two times ‘no’ to Liverpool. I’m blue.” That is what Lucas Digne told Sky Sports upon signing for Everton. No pressure on Sunday then, Lucas.
However, Digne is arguably one of the most underrated players in the Premier League right now and will go into Sunday’s derby at Anfield knowing that he has an admirer in Jurgen Klopp.
The German has good reason to be keeping an eye on the French international, considering that he has created more chances (22) than any other defender in the Premier League this season.
Digne has also delivered 10 crosses from open play so far this season, the eighth highest of any Premier League player.
The left back’s £18m price-tag currently looks to be an absolute bargain for a player who is so effective and still only 25. This Sunday’s Merseyside derby could be a great stage to further prove his talents.