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    Chelsea, Man City eye Digne as Chilwell alternative

    Chelsea and Manchester City have identified Everton‘s Lucas Digne as a potential solution to their respective problems at left-back, with sources telling ESPN that both clubs see the former Barcelona defender as an alternative to Leicester’s Ben Chilwell.

    As reported by ESPN in January, Chilwell is a long-term Chelsea target, with manager Frank Lampard identifying the 23-year-old as a player who could provide the same consistency and longevity as his former Stamford Bridge teammate Ashley Cole.

    City manager Pep Guardiola is also looking for reinforcements in that position due to ongoing concerns over the reliability of Benjamin Mendy and the ability of Oleksandr Zinchenko to perform at the highest level.

    But while both Chelsea and City regard England international Chilwell as a top quality left-back capable of resolving their shortcomings in that position, sources have told ESPN that Leicester will hold out for at least £75 million for the defender.

    City dropped their interest in Harry Maguire last summer when Leicester made it clear they would not sell for less than £80m and the England centre-half eventually became the world’s most expensive defender when signing for Manchester United for that figure.

    Everton would expect a high fee for France international Digne, who cost £18m when he arrived on a five-year contract from Barcelona in 2018.

    But with the former Paris Saint-Germain and Roma full-back approaching his 27th birthday later this month, sources have told ESPN that both Chelsea and City believe he would be a less expensive option than Chilwell and, with 30 international caps for France and Champions League pedigree with Barcelona, proven experience at the top level.

    Meanwhile, Everton have signed talented France under-19 left-back Niels Nkounkou on a free transfer from Ligue 1 giants Marseille, they announced on Thursday. The 19-year-old defender has agreed a three-year deal with the Blues after his contract with Marseille expired last month.

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