LONDON • Everton, once known as England's "Bank of England" club, are returning to their high-spending ways by becoming Europe's heaviest spenders in the transfer window.
The Premier League club announced on Monday that they have signed promising defender Michael Keane from Burnley on a five-year deal which could reach a club-record £30 million (S$53.6 million).
The 24-year-old, who came through Manchester United's youth system, has played twice for England and becomes the club's fifth summer signing.
Keane said that speaking to Toffees boss Ronald Koeman, who played the same position at Barcelona, had convinced him.
"You always want to play for a manager who believes in you. I wanted to come somewhere I was wanted by the staff, players and fans as well," he said.
"He's convinced me that he can still improve me in certain areas of my game. I'm only 24 and I've still got a long way to go and hopefully under his guidance I'll keep improving."
With Keane's arrival, Everton have took their overall investment to over £80 million this transfer window as they attempt to build a side capable of breaking into the Premier League's top four next season.
EVERTON'S KEY SIGNINGS IN THEIR SPREE THUS FAR
Other signings include Ajax midfielder Davy Klaassen (£23 million), Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford (£25 million), Malaga forward Sandro Ramirez (£5.1 million) and Henry Onyekuru (£6.8 million), the Eupen striker who was immediately loaned out to another Belgian side Anderlecht.
On top of that, the Toffees are also stepping up their efforts to lure United forward Wayne Rooney back to Goodison Park.
There remain hurdles to overcome, notably coming up with a financial package for a player who earns about £250,000 a week at United, but Everton's desire to strike a deal for the 31-year-old is now clear.
The situation has been discussed over the past week and the clubs have also been talking about striker Romelu Lukaku, who is wanted by both United and Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho, the United manager, has said that he wants his club captain to remain at Old Trafford but the prospect of regular football at Everton, whom Rooney left in 2004, is intriguing for a player who has said that his boyhood club is the only other one that he would play for in the Premier League.
It is unclear what sort of fee United would want for a player with 12 months left on his contract.
But even without Rooney, the £80 million Everton have spent thus far has outstripped city rivals Liverpool - who have paid £37 million for Mohamed Salah - and every other club across the continent, although the picture may change as bigger clubs tie down summer deals.
Everton were given the moneybags sobriquet, originally coined for Sunderland in the 1950s, when they were backed by funds from the Littlewoods Catalogue Empire in the 1960s, investment that led to them winning the title in 1970.
Their latest splurge in the transfer market comes on the back of a £19 million net spend in January.
The cash outlay reflects both their improved finances since the arrival of co-owner Farhad Moshiri, the Iranian billionaire who bought a 49.9 per cent stake last year, and the possible departure of Lukaku, who is expected to leave for a fee of up to £100 million.
In May, Koeman said the club intended to invest over the summer with the intention of reaching the Champions League for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
"We have a very powerful and exciting project, and we're going to strengthen as best as possible to try and reach the Champions League next season," the 54-year-old Dutchman said.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON