Vitaliy Mykolenko signs for Everton — and Lucas Digne could be allowed out on loan

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Everton have kick-started what promises to be a busy January transfer window by signing Vitaliy Mykolenko from Dynamo Kiev for a fee of around £17 million.

The Ukraine left back has signed a four-and-a-half-year deal, increasing the likelihood of French international Lucas Digne’s departure.

Mykolenko, 22, was part of the Ukraine team which reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2020. His arrival confirms manager Rafa Benitez’s pledge to add players of international pedigree to his squad at the earliest opportunity.

“Moving to Everton is a big and important step in my life,” said Mykolenko. “I have always dreamed of playing in the Premier League. English football is where the game was born and I think that it will suit my game very well.

“I am 22 but I don’t feel like a youngster. I have experience of playing at European level and hope I will continue to improve as a player.”

Benitez sees Mykolenko as a versatile player who can adjust to different systems, potentially operating at centre-half and wing-back. He already has plenty of experience having made 132 first-team appearances for Dynamo as well as 21 international caps.

“Modern football demands that full-backs are able to attack as well as defend. I think I am a versatile defender who can get up and down the pitch,” Mykolenko added. “But I believe desire and commitment are the most important attributes and I will aim to bring those qualities. I believe I will grow as a person and as a player.”

While Mykolenko settles in, Digne — recently dropped from the squad — will be under no illusions about what his future holds now another left back has been recruited.

Enquiries have been made by Inter Milan and Napoli, two clubs Benitez has previously managed. Benitez informed representatives of the Serie A clubs that they must commit to a permanent deal to sign the 28-year-old.

Everton will let Digne leave on loan, but only if there is an obligation to buy him when a club has more finances to do so in six months. So far, the discussions have only referenced an ‘option’ to buy, which Everton will not accept.

Mykolenko is unlikely to be the last arrival at Goodison in the coming weeks. Benitez also wants a right back, with Rangers’ Nathan Patterson the prime target. 

Of broader significance is owner Farhad Moshiri’s determination to let Benitez press on with his rebuilding plans. It is clear he wants to give the Spanish coach the time and patience needed to get Everton through a challenging season.

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