Everton summer signing reveals how he gave up childhood dream because of Silva


Everton snapped up France international left-back Lucas Digne from Barcelona for £18million during the summer transfer window, and it is safe to say the 25-year-old hit the ground running at Goodison Park. 

In 10 English Premier League appearances, the former PSG man has registered one assist, created 20 chances, won 14 tackles, 17 interceptions and completed 81% of his attempted passes, and much more can be expected of him going forward. 

Having missed out on France's World Cup squad, Digne's Everton performances have earned him a recall, and the Frenchman has now revealed why he swapped Camp Nou for Merseyside.

“I was’t really planning to leave Barca and they were not looking to sell me, but when I spoke to Everton manager Marco Silva on the phone I got this special feeling. He really lit a fire inside of me and I thought: ‘Wow! I really want to play for this club and manager'," he told Goal.

"Then I went to Barca ask them to please let me go. After a few talks, they accepted, that this was my wish. I am thankful for that, because now I feel happy in Everton.

“Barca was my childhood dream, so yes, it was difficult to leave, because I could have stayed to continue a great life in the club and the city. The club wanted me to stay. But I am 25 years old now and in a phase of my career, where I want to play every week, have a bigger role in the team and feel the full confidence of the coach. So I could not turn down the Everton project."

Digne has become the first-choice left-back ahead of the more experienced Baines Leighton Baines, and it doesn't seem he will be giving up that starting berth anytime soon. 

Having played alongside some of the best players on the planet, the France international brings huge quality to the table, and landing him for £18million is an absolute steal. 

Manager Marco Silva must have done enough to convince him to give up on his childhood dream after just a few years, and his national team recall is proof that he made the right decision. 

Everton are hoping to become one of Premier League's bigwigs going forward, and it led to the appointment of Silva and Marcel Brands as manager and Sporting Director respectively ahead of the season. 

Recruiting quality players like Digne will no doubt go a long way in helping the Toffees realize their dreams, and the club can be rest-assured that Silva will continue to help convince more top stars into joining.

Bad news emerge for Dean Smith as Villa are dealt potentially concerning blow

Aston Villa

Aston Villa are slowly picking up steam following a woeful start to the 2018-19 English Championship campaign under former boss Steve Bruce. 

The Villans managed just three victories in their opening 12 games of the season, leading to the sacking of Bruce and the subsequent appointment of Dean Smith. 

Since his arrival, Villa have won three in five games, securing emphatic back-to-back victories heading into the international break. 

Smith will hope all his players return unscathed from international duty, but it doesn't seem that wish will come true from the look of things.

Aston Villa have been dealt a potentially concerning blow, with the BBC reporting that Scotland international midfielder John McGinn has dropped out of Alex McLeish's squad through a calf injury. 

The 24-year-old has established himself as a key member of the Scottish team, winning 13 caps and starting their last four games. 

However, he won't be seeing action in the Uefa Nations League double-header against Albania and Israel. 

It remains to be seen how long McGinn will sit out of action, but with just 10 days left before Villa resume their campaign, Smith will be hoping he returns to full fitness as soon as possible.

The dynamic midfielder has scored two goals and registered four assists in 15 league games this term, including one apiece in last Saturday's 3-0 demolition of Derby. 

Villa have a tough run for the remainder of 2018, as they will be coming up against some of the top sides in the table, and they need McGinn fully fit in order to boost their promotion chances.

Are Barcelona already regretting selling player to Everton in the summer?


Everton secured a goalless draw against Chelsea at the Stamford Bridge at the weekend, with Yerry Mina emerging as the man-of-the-match following a superb display in his debut start for the Merseyside club. 

The Colombian international was calm on the ball, often bringing it out from the back and excelling aerially at both ends of the pitch. 

It was a type of performance that would have given manager Marco Silva a lot to think about, as he could now have a selection headache, with Kurt Zouma available for action having been ineligible against his parent club.

Mina was a revelation at the World Cup for the South American side, convincing Everton to splash the cash on him during the summer transfer window. 

His brilliance in Russia, however, didn't stop Barcelona from sanctioning his sale after an unconvincing half-season at the Camp Nou.

The 24-year-old moved to the Catalan club in January from Brazilian side Palmeiras, but struggled to hit the ground running. 

Nevertheless, Mina is beginning to show what is capable of doing in just few minutes of Premier League action, and Barcelona could be left ruing selling him already. 

According to AS, the Spanish giants are considering signing a central defender in the winter transfer market if the recovery of French defender Samuel Umtiti's knee is not as desired. 

The always-injured Thomas Vermaelen picked a knock on his hamstring while on international duty with Belgium last time out, and Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet are the only available centre-backs. 

Mina's presence would have boosted the club's depth during such a defensive crisis, but Everton are now the one to benefit from Barcelona's error, and it won't be surprising if the Camp Nou outfit exercise their option to buy him back as early as next summer.

Report: Rafa Benitez could finally sign contract extension following last development


Despite starting the campaign on the most woeful of notes, Newcastle United finally turned a corner and picked up steam in the last few days, securing their first two league victories of 2018-19 following back-to-back victories against Watford and Bournemouth. 

They are still not completely assured of escaping relegation, though, as they currently sit just a point and three places above the drop zone. 

Safety or not, Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez will most likely leave Saint James' Park at the end of his contract come season ending, with the reluctance of owner Mike Ashley to invest irking him. 

However, recent reports from the Daily Mirror claims Benitez’s future depends on a sale and that he is unlikely to extend his deal, unless there is a change in ownership. 

A new development to that effect has now taken place, with the same source claiming Ashley recently visited the United States of America to discuss the final stages of a sale of Newcastle, and a potential takeover could be worth £350million. 

The Tyneside outfit was put up for sale last season, with Amanda Staveley favourite to buy at the time, but Ashley refused to sell. 

Despite staying away for 16 months, the club owner has now attended the last seven games in his effort to build a relationship with the squad and manager. 

That might be too little too late at the moment, but a change of ownership will surely guarantee huge investment in the transfer windows, and Benitez will be more than willing to stay beyond next summer and help the club to the next level going forward.

Newcastle United star praises Benitez for doing one thing during woeful run


Newcastle United boosted their survival chances after securing back-to-back English Premier League victories against highflying Watford and Bournemouth, and they head into the international break a point and three places above the drop zone. 

The Magpies had earlier lost seven and drawn three of their opening 12 games of 2018-19, and there were whispers manager Rafa Benitez's job was under huge threat. 

However, it doesn't seem the Spaniard was under any pressure at any point in time, and Scottish forward Matt Ritchie has revealed that he was rather unfazed.

“That’ one of his best qualities, how calm he is in all situations, the 29-year-old told talkSPORT.

“I think the bigger picture is definitely something he takes into account and the way he stays so calm. We’d gone ten games without a win at the start of the season, it’s a stressful period for everyone involved but the manager is the leader of that.

“He always believed in us and the players believe in themselves as well. Hopefully we’ve come through that now and we can kick on.”

Given his huge managerial experience, a relegation scare is the last thing that will unnerve Benitez, and that he maintained his cool during the earlier woeful shouldn't have come as a surprise to many. 

He helped Extremadura to Spanish top-flight promotion in 1997 and kept them there the following season despite all odds and having to battle the drop all-campaign.

Benitez's future at Saint James' Park remains uncertain, though, as he is yet to put pen to paper for a contract extension. 

The 58-year-old signed an initial three-year deal in March 2016, and with his contract due to run out at the end of the season, it remains to be seen what the future holds.  

The unwillingness of Newcastle owner Mike Ashley to invest in transfers is the major reason why Benitez has delayed signing a new contract, and whatever happens during the January transfer window could end up determining if he will stay or not.

Potential West Ham blow as star reportedly will call it quit come season-ending

West Ham United

West Ham United right-back Pablo Zabaleta wants to hang his boots at the end of the season, according to Spanish newspaper Sport

The Argentine defender will turn 34 in January, and isn't keen on extending the two-year deal he signed last summer upon leaving Manchester City for the Hammers. 

Zabaleta has been a key part of the West Ham squad since arriving, featuring in 46 league games till date and isn't showing signs of slowing down yet. 

However, the former Espanyol man will most likely return to Barcelona in order to be with his wife Christel Castano, a Catalan journalist and model.

Zabaleta has 15 years of professional football under his belt and was a huge part of the Manchester City side that won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup during his nine years at the club. 

The former Argentina international also made the PFA Team of the Year in the 2012-13 season, and was arguably the best in his position in the top-flight during his heyday.

West Ham currently have Ryan Fredericks as their other option at right-back, but the summer arrival is yet to fully convince. 

He has started three games and made a substitute appearance in the league thus far, and he surely has a lot to learn from the departing Zabaleta. 

It remains to be seen if the Hammers are ready for the potential departure of the South American, but they will surely miss his versatility and experience without a doubt. 

Manager Manuel Pellegrini will have to look into the market for a replacement for the veteran and legend as early as the January transfer window.

Why Silva must start 21-yr-old against Cardiff City ahead of summer arrival


Everton were in their element at the Stamford Bridge on Sunday evening, securing a valuable goalless draw against Chelsea to head into the international break with just a loss in their last six English Premier League games. 

Chances were few and far between at both ends, but manager Marco Silva would have been very pleased with what he saw, and barring any injuries, the Portuguese should have an idea of what his starting XI against Cardiff City should be like. 

Going by the individual performances of the 14 players that saw action, Ademola Lookman proved he deserves to be handed his first league start of the campaign immediately after the international break.

The 21-year-old came on for Bernand with 26 minutes to play, and he was a threat to the Chelsea defence most of the times he attacked. 

Lookman's most memorable moment of the game was when he jinked his way past two defenders and forced Kepa Arrizabalaga off his lines. 

The Englishman has shown flashes of his talents, including an assist in the six substitute appearances he has been afforded in the topflight this season, and he surely deserves a start to prove himself. 

While Bernand brings experience to the table, an assist in nine appearances isn't particularly an impressive return, and it won't hurt if Silva experiments against struggling Cardiff and play Lookman.

The youngster proved what he is capable of doing last season on loan at RB Leipzig, netting five goals in 11 appearances, and he surely has what it takes to succeed at Everton. 

A start and more playing minutes could be all he needs, and Silva shouldn't hesitate to hand him more opportunities going forward.

Rangers man explains what he should have done to hit the ground running this term


Rangers ran riot on Sunday, demolishing 10-man Motherwell 7-1 to move within two places of joint-leaders Celtic and Hearts. 

The Light Blues put in very impressive shifts at both ends of the pitch, and it was the perfect response manager Steven Gerrard would have wanted following Thursday's Europa League loss to Spartak Moskva. 

Summer arrival Gareth McAuley finally made his Scottish Premiership debut for the Light Blues having played for the first time during the week, and the defensive veteran performed brilliantly in the 45 minutes he spent on the pitch.

An injury had kept the Northern Ireland international out of action upon signing a one-year deal on a free during the summer after he left West Bromwich Albion, but he reckons a proper pre-season preparation would have kept him in shape ahead of the new season. 

“I have enjoyed it, and it has been hard work," McAuley told RangersTV of his debut.

"In hindsight, I should have gone in somewhere and done pre-season properly.

"But here I have done the hard work and I feel fit and ready to go and hopefully go away on international duty now and hopefully get some more minutes, and then come back, compete and hopefully get more minutes and push for starts."

Rangers have enough depth at the back with McAuley now set to play a key part of the first team, and his experience will surely come handy for the Ibrox side going forward. 

The Light Blues will be looking to challenge strongly for the league and Scottish Cup, and Gerrard needs all hands on deck if his side are to have a chance. 

After securing seven wins and three draws in their opening 12 league games of the campaign, Rangers head into the break in high spirits and will be looking to continue from where they stopped when Livingston come visiting upon the resumption of league action.

"I have not done anything yet"- West Ham star goes hard on himself despite praises

West Ham United

West Ham United haven't been any spectacular so far this season, with just three wins and three draws to their name in 12 English Premier League games. 

The Hammers are yet to win back-to-back league games in almost two years, and manager Manuel Pellegrini will hope to get things right when action resumes after the international break. 

West Ham ought to be doing much better after nine new players were brought in during the summer transfer window, but injuries and inconsistency have limited the influence of the majority of the summer arrivals.

However, French centre-back Issa Diop has been in very fine form since arriving from Toulouse, with Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho showering praises on him after September's 3-1 defeat of the Red Devils. 

The 21-year-old has played 10 league games thus far and is already earning rave reviews from many quarters as a result of his top performances. 

Nevertheless, Diop reckons he is far from his actual best and only wants to keep pushing himself harder.

“I am surprised sometimes by the comments of people who find that I make good matches. I think I’m starting a normal season," the French youngster told L’Equipe

“I have always been very demanding of myself. This is the only way to perform. My personality and my education are like that. I know I have a lot of work to do. So, I have not done anything yet.”

Diop is clearly not satisfied with himself despite what others make of his fine performances, and that is good news for the Hammers who stand to gain a lot from his development and improvement going forward. 

Earning a senior national team call-up to the French squad is definitely high on the defender's wish list, and he will surely do everything to push himself to catch the attention of the squad selectors. 

Diop has already emerged top of a couple of individual battles with some of EPL's best forwards, and West Ham surely have a gem within their ranks from the look of things.

"He did everything I expected"- Silva showers praise on Sky Sports MOTM


Everton secured a valuable 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea on Sunday, and they head into the international break in high spirits having lost just one of their last six English Premier League games. 

The Toffees didn't create much at the other end, but they gave a top defensive performance at their own end to thwart the efforts of the hosts, and manager Marco Silva will be more than proud of his men. 

Colombian international centre-back Yerry Mina particularly stood out on his full debut, and was deservedly awarded man of the match by Sky Sports.

Silva was full of praises for the former Barcelona man post-game, and he surely has given the Portuguese manager selection headache going forward. 

"He did everything I expected," Silva told Sky Sports post-game.

"It was his first official match in maybe three or four months and he showed his quality.

"He is very good on the ball and he is a player who will give us quality on the ball. Even without the ball he did what we planned, our defensive organisation and process. I think he did really well."

Mina replaced Kurt Zouma, who was ineligible to play against his parent club, and it remains to be seen if he will be holding on to his berth after such impressive performance.

Injury kept the Colombian out of action upon arriving Goodison Park in the summer, and Zouma and Michael Keane established a fine partnership in central defence in his absence. 

The duo have been without fault and Silva now has quality depth at the back which will come very handy going forward this season. 

Everton have now kept their third clean sheet of the campaign and getting better defensively will go a long way in defining how their season goes. 

Should they keep putting in top-notch defensive shifts as they did against Chelsea, the Merseysiders can go all the way and finish comfortably in top eight.