Lucas Digne suggests Rafa Benitez 'destroyed Everton love affair' as he confirms exit

Digne has said his farewells to Everton
Digne has said his farewells to Everton / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Lucas Digne has said his farewells to Everton ahead of sealing a transfer to Aston Villa.

The Frenchman fell out of favour under Rafa Benitez and was being looked at by both Newcastle United and Chelsea this month, but Villa swooped in and voiced their intention to sign Digne permanently instead of on loan.

It brings an end to a tumultuous final few weeks at Goodison Park for Digne, who took to Instagram to stress that he does not plan to get into a public fight with anybody over what has happened in recent months, but he was clearly unimpressed.

"Thank you for 3 1/2 years in Blue," he wrote. "From Day One the Evertonians have received me with a lot of warm feelings, and I am forever thankful for that.

"I have loved to be a part of the Everton family. I have always worked hard to give back to the fans on and off the pitch. I have loved the unity of fans and players. Not only Goodison on a match day but also in everyday life.

"Only one year ago I signed a new contract with the ambition of staying in this club for a long time, giving everything for my club, for the development and project, that I believed in - and for the passionate fans. My dream was helping the club back where it belongs. Wearing the captain’s armband in some matches always made me proud.

"Everything must come to an end. I just did not expect it to end this way. What has happened and some things that was said about me in the last month has made me very sad. But I will not enter a war on words with anyone. The club don’t deserve that, the fans don’t deserve that - and to be honest, I don’t feel that I deserve that. There are so many good and decent people in and around Everton who want to the best for this club and not only for themselves - and to them I can only say from my heart: I wish you the best!

"Thank you, to all you wonderful, proud and passionate true Evertonians. It has been an honour and a true pleasure to play for you, the fans, the people - because a club do not belong to a player or a manager, but to the fans. I will always carry you with me in my heart wherever I go. Sometimes it only takes one person from outside to destroy a beautiful love affair."

Digne is set to seal a £25m move to Villa in the near future, with Anwar El Ghazi expected to move on loan in the opposite direction.