Rafael Benitez asks Everton fans ‘what would Peter Reid say’ to a wantaway player like Lucas Digne

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“When I was talking about Peter Reid, I was talking about someone who cares and who was always pushing for the best from everyone on the pitch. That was the idea. So when I talk about that I am talking about myself also wanting everything from the players. When they do not do that, I can be upset.”

Digne was named on the bench for last week’s 3-2 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion, during which he was cheered by the Gwladys Street. He had been left out of the squad for previous games with Benítez questioning his commitment. Until now, he had not gone into details as to why he had left him out.

Asked why he was recalled to the squad last week, Benítez said: “Because as a manager you have a responsibility and you have to do the best for the club. Sometimes you pay for that.”

Benítez was also pressed on Digne’s reasoning for wanting to quit. “I have no explanation. We are professionals,” he said. “We are paid big money to do our job and if someone is happy or not happy it is up to you to perform in your job. They pay you big money to perform, you have to perform, you have to be available, you have to put your interests behind the interests of the club. That is my feeling and the feeling of everyone since I am a professional in football.

“Maybe the stats and priorities have changed and people think themselves ahead of other things. A team that finished 10th and someone is worried about their stats changes nothing for me. I don’t want to finish 10th, I’d like to be in a much better position, I am not stupid. I want to finish as high as possible. The club is growing and improving and we are creating a winning mentality for the future but it will take some time. In the meantime you need players who really want to be here.

“I will ask the question, Peter Reid – what would he say about a player who doesn’t want to be here? Would he be happy with this player? Would he be supportive of this player? Would the fans be supportive of this player? We have to consider what we want to do in our future. Do we want to try and improve or just manage the egos and leave the team behind depending on the egos.”

Although there is interest in Digne, Benítez said no significant bids have been received. “I would say to you I’d like to sign [Erling] Haaland and [Kylian] Mbappé, but I have to commit myself,” he said.

“We need commitment, not enquiries. I am not in charge of negotiations but when someone is asking they have to say, ‘I will buy, I will pay or I will make an obligation or something’. But people talk and talk.”

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