By George Overhill

13th Jan, 2022 | 3:10pm

Lucas Digne would have been a future Everton captain - Sky Sports journalist

It is a “sorry saga” that has seen Everton lose Lucas Digne to Aston Villa as he would have been a future captain, according to Sky Sports’ Ben Grounds.

The journalist has assessed the situation surrounding The Toffees and believes the sale of the French left-back to Aston Villa encapsulates the problems at Goodison.

And despite the transfer now being complete he is not confident that this signifies an end to the issues.

Grounds wrote: “Allowing Digne to depart for such a modest sum can only serve to highlight how much the club are still in need of balancing books – not just severing ties.

“Make no mistake: had Digne enjoyed a healthy relationship with Raphael (sic) Benitez, he would still be an Everton player and a future Everton captain.

“What this sorry saga leaves behind is an even more divided fanbase, who are right to question where the ongoing strategic review takes the club next.”

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Combination of problems

The bleak picture painted on Merseyside is one of wholesale malaise and suggests that the Digne/Benitez issue was a symptom rather than a cause.

If that is the case then fans may be in for more misery as, despite apparent concerns over his defensive ability, the on-pitch quality of the France international would have been an asset.

Money has been spent, as it seems to so often be at Everton over recent seasons, but it is not clear whether the squad has improved.

Andriy Mykolenko and Nathan Patterson may turn out to be astute business but neither have experience in the Premier League, and the ex-Rangers man was not even a starter in Glasgow.

The fact that it was imperative for Digne to be sold during this window, and the widely-held knowledge that he was not going to feature under the current manager, means the fee received does not even cover the two comparatively junior signings.

But questions will be raised over the temperament of the departed left-back, and with the ownership apparently intent on backing the manager despite all the criticism, hopes of maintaining squad unity dictated he needed to be moved on.

The only thing that will improve things in the short term is winning games, but the inability to master the transfer market from those at the top is going to have more of a bearing longer-term.

In other Everton news, Digne has been slammed live on air by this pundit over his exit.