The £28 million signing of former loanee Romelu Lukaku has made the headlines but Roberto Martinez will need to further bolster his squad, with positional rivals strengtheningBy Alex Young
After a record-breaking season under Roberto Martinez, Everton will be hoping to qualify for the Champions League for just the second time in their history. Goal assesses the lay of the land at Goodison Park.
|INS & OUTS
Gareth Barry (Manchester City, free); Muhamed Besic (Ferencvaros, £4m); Brendan Galloway (MK Dons); Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea, £28m).
Magaye Gueye (released); Apostolos Vellios (released).
Everton traditionally always performed far better than their budget suggested and, while the £28 million signing of former loanee Romelu Lukaku is a statement of intent, it does pose the question of how much is left over to fill out the squad.
Gareth Barry has always turned his temporary spell into a permanent one, emphasising the similarities between this squad and that of 12 months ago with - as yet - just Muhamed Besic coming in who could be considered a regular first-team member.
In addition, Gerard Deulofeu is now part of Barcelona's squad after impressing during his own loan spell at Goodison Park and a replacement for the winger is yet to be purchased. Chelsea youngster Christian Atsu has been targeted but negotiations regarding a season-long deal have stalled due to how much first-team football the Ghanaian will be afforded.
Injuries to key players - namely Lukaku, Ross Barkley, James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman - could see Everton's season be derailed and the club's fans will acknowledge that their rivals for a top-four berth have all strengthened more than their own.
The record-breaking purchase of Lukaku may have grabbed the headlines on July 31 but the announcement of Ross Barkley's new five-year deal may prove a more astute piece of business in the long run.
After being afford a bit-part role under David Moyes, which included two loans spells, the midfielder was thrust into the first-team spotlight by Roberto Martinez. Afforded a start on the first day of the season, Barkley hit a fine long-range effort to earn a 2-2 draw with Norwich City and his stock only rose from then on.
The 20-year-old will now be hoping to stay clear of the injuries which hampered his progress at times last season and look for more consistency in his performances – notably his lack of any assists in the league despite occupying a No.10 role – but will be buoyed and will be benefited from his call-up to England's World Cup squad.
Despite impressing at Swansea City in the Championship and continuing his reputation for possession-based football at Wigan, some still questioned Martinez's ability to cut his teeth at an established Premier League side.
After rejecting Liverpool the year before in favour of staying at the DW Stadium, the Spaniard finally took a step up, and to great success.
Martinez was the first manager in the Toffees' history to avoid defeat in their opening six games in charge before wins over Manchester United home and away for the first time in 44 years ended with a record points haul come the end of the season. Even Moyes's well-respected 11-year tenure was starting to be questioned.
Martinez was rewarded with a new five-year contract in June, with chairman Bill Kenwright hailing him as "one of the best managers in Europe".
|A GOOD 2014-15 WOULD BE...
The club and fans will only be looking up after a fine debut season under Martinez and any improvement points directly to Champions League qualification. The manager promised Kenwright upon his appointment 12 months ago that he would reach Europe's top table – to much guffaws – but it is already a very real possibility.
|EVERTON ODDS FOR 2014-15
(From William Hill)
Everton, though, now have the pressure of European football with which to contend, namely the gruelling Europa League schedule. Moyes struggled to balance a small squad with commitments home and abroad and, as detailed above, investment in the squad is still needed.
In light of this, a domestic cup run could reap better rewards. Everton last lifted notable silverware in the form of the FA Cup in 1995 and Martinez, of course, has pedigree in cup competitions with Wigan's win in the same competition just over a year ago.