By Noel Whelan

11th Jan, 2022 | 11:18am

Digne 'fallout' could be 'final straw' for Benitez after Everton dressing room claim - pundit

The “fallout” from Lucas Digne’s imminent departure could be the “final straw” for Rafa Benitez at Everton, according to Noel Whelan.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed the 28-year-old’s first-team exclusion has “contributed” to fan unrest and affected camaraderie in the dressing room.

This site exclusively revealed yesterday (10 January) that Everton have accepted a bid of £22million from Aston Villa for Digne.

A recruitment source has told Football Insider that the France international has been given the green light to discuss personal terms with the Midlands club.

Whelan suggested Benitez has handed the Goodison faithful a “kick in the teeth” by allowing the left-back to depart to a Premier League rival.

“It really won’t help him at all, the fallout with Lucas Digne,” he told Football Insider‘s Ewan Kingsbury.

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“It’s contributed to the unrest with the fans. It won’t have done any good for the camaraderie in the dressing room. It could be the final straw for those Everton fans.

“He’s a concrete figure at the club, he’s been there a long time. He’s also one of the best wing-backs in the Premier League.

“It will play a big factor in the way Everton fans are reacting to Benitez. Digne is going to a rival club who will be fighting with them for where they want to be in the table. It’s just such a kick in the teeth.”

Digne’s last Everton appearance came on 1 December.

The left-back fell out of favour after a well-publicised training ground bust-up with Benitez last month.

In other news, pundit issues “big” Everton claim after source update on signing Man United starlet.