Benitez addresses Everton’s interest in Newcastle’s Longstaff, provides Lucas Digne update amid Chelsea links

Everton FC/ Youtube
The key talking points from the Everton manager’s pre-match press conference ahead of the FA Cup clash at Hull.

Rafa Benitez has been speaking to the media ahead of Everton’s FA Cup third-round tie at Hull City.

Here are the key points from the Toffees manager’s press conference

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Longstaff interest

Sean Longstaff embraces with Rafa Benitez during his time at Newcastle boss. Picture: GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty ImagesSean Longstaff embraces with Rafa Benitez during his time at Newcastle boss. Picture: GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images
Sean Longstaff embraces with Rafa Benitez during his time at Newcastle boss. Picture: GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images | AFP via Getty Images

Everton have been linked with a move for Newcastle’s Sean Longstaff during the January transfer window.

Benitez worked with the midfielder while in charge at St James’ Park.

Benitez was tight-lipped whether Longstaff could be the next player to arrive during the January window after already recruiting Vitaliy Mykolenko and Nathan Patterson.

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He said: “We’re open to good players who can be available to improve the squad. We’re not specificially focused on this or that.

“We have some ideas, we are working on these and if we kind find something interesting for us, we will try to do it.

“To be fair, I’m quite focused on the game. I know people are working on names. We have different options and names and possible names.

“We have different options and names and we’re working on that. This window is so complicated you never know.”

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Digne wants to leave

The left-back has interest from a host of clubs including Chelsea, Newcastle and West Ham.

Everton defender Lucas Digne. Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty ImagesEverton defender Lucas Digne. Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Everton defender Lucas Digne. Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty Images | Getty Images

Now Mykolenko is through the door, it appears Digne will leave Everton this month.

Benitez revealed that the France international does no longer want to be at the club.

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He said: “I think he was very clear. I want to ask a question to every fan and former player.

“What will Peter Reid do or say when a player goes. He will say he doesn’t want to be there. That’s it. Simple.

“I’ve had a couple of conversations with him, he’s told me what he thinks. What do you expect a manager to do when a player is thinking about wanting to leave?

“I will say again. Fans, former players, what Peter Reid will say if a player goes is he doesn’t want to be here.

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“We need commitment [from clubs]. We don’t need enquiries. I’m not in charge of negotiations but when someone is asking, they have to commit themselves. They have to say they’ll buy, pay or make an obligation or something. People can talk and talk.

“I’m really pleased with Dominic (Calvert-Lewin) but if you bring my (Kylian) Mbappe, I’ll be happy too.

“Can I do it? I can make an enquiry and then you’ll say: ‘Oh you’re interested’.

“We need players that want to be here for any reason. Talking about individual stats, when the team finished 10th, means nothing. I want a winning mentality, ambition and it’ll take some time but at least we try to do things in the right way.”

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Potential debutants

Everton have been active in the opening week of the January transfer window.

Mykolenko, 22, and Patterson, 20, have arrived from Dynamo Kiev and Rangers respectively to bolster Benitez’s full-back options.

Benitez is unsure if either will start at Hull due to fitness concerns, though.

He said: “We know both players well. We know about their potential and then the first training session was for them to settle down.

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“Yesterday, it was much better and better communication with team-mates.

Nathan Patterson in action for Rangers. Picture: Ian MacNicol/Getty ImagesNathan Patterson in action for Rangers. Picture: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Nathan Patterson in action for Rangers. Picture: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images | Getty Images

“Are they ready? We will see. We have another training session and will see how they feel.

“If they have to play, both can play but they’ve gone 15-20 days without training so we have to consider all of the aspects.

“Maybe they can start, maybe one, maybe both. We have to consider if they’re fit enough.”

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Gbamin update

Everton are reportedly ready to allow Jean-Philippe Gbamin to leave in January.

The midfielder’s endured a wretched time since his £25 million move in 2018 and made only four appearances this season.

Benitez admitted that no offers have yet to come in for Gbamin.

“I have contact with him and his agent,” said the Everton boss.

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“People can talk but the reality is if you want a player to go, you have to have an offer, the player has to say yes and the club has to say yes.

“A lot of clubs say they’re interested in this player but after, don’t have any obligation.”

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