French left-back Lucas Digne has joined Aston Villa from Everton on a deal worth up to £25m.
The 28-year-old fell out of favour at Everton this season under manager Rafael Benitez, who said last week Digne had asked to leave the club.
Digne, who has signed on a four-and-a-half-year deal, said he did not expect his time at Everton “to end this way”.
“When Lucas became available we jumped at the opportunity to bring him to the club,” said Villa boss Steven Gerrard.
“To sign a player of his pedigree and quality in the January window is a great addition to our squad and his arrival excites me and everyone associated with Aston Villa.”
Digne said he had joined Villa because of Gerrard. “It was the main factor. I came here for the manager,” he said.
“I had a very good meeting with him and we spoke a couple of times during this month. I feel his desire to win – the attacking football, the possession.
“I feel it’s what I want and what I want to show to the fans.”
Everton signed Digne from Barcelona in the summer of 2018 for £18m under former manager Marco Silva.
He went on to make 127 appearances for the Goodison Park club, scoring six goals.
Digne made 15 appearances for Everton this season but had not played for them since 1 December.
Several clubs registered their interest in the left-back, including Newcastle United, Chelsea and sides from Serie A, but Villa were ultimately successful in securing his signature.
“What has happened and some things that was said about me in the last month has made me very sad,” Digne wrote in a post on Instagram.
“But I will not enter a war on words with anyone.
“The club don’t deserve that, the fans don’t deserve that – and to be honest, I don’t feel that I deserve that.”
He added: “Sometimes it only takes one person from outside to destroy a beautiful love affair.”
Digne is Villa’s second signing of the January transfer window, the Midlands club having also brought in Brazil playmaker Philippe Coutinho on loan from Barcelona.
Find all the latest football transfers on our dedicated page.
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