Everton are set to offer full-back Lucas Digne a new contract – and not a moment too soon, according to Darren Bent.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the 13-time England international said Everton were “blessed” to have a player of Digne’s calibre on their books and that in tying him down to a new deal, the club was making a statement of intent.

Digne has two years remaining on his current deal, but with big clubs – including Manchester City – circling, The Times reported on Monday that Everton are poised to offer the ex-Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona man improved terms.

Asked by Football Insider correspondent Russell Edge what he thought of news of a potential new deal, Bent was emphatic: “I’m a big fan of Luca Digne’s. And the fact they’re managing to keep hold of some of their players, that’s a big statement from Everton.”

“Digne’s got a great left foot, gets crosses in. They’ve been blessed to have Baines retiring and him drop straight in there… absolutely superb.”

“I always thought to myself, ‘Wow… how are they gonna replace Baines?'”

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“Baines was that good for that long, and then he came in. At first, I wasn’t sure, then you start to see after a while how good he is. He’s so, so good.”

The 27-year-old France international has been absent since suffering an ankle injury before the 1-0 defeat to Leeds, 28 November.

He has undergone surgery and is expected to return to action sooner than expected, according to Carlo Ancelotti, though he offered no specific timeframe.

In other news, a 21-year-old Everton defender looks set to leave Goodison Park with a number of Football League clubs on the prowl.