Everton and Spurs set to battle for European spot

Everton's Italian midfielder Moise Kean (right) is congratulated by teammates in Liverpool, England, on July 26, 2020.
Everton's Italian midfielder Moise Kean (right) is congratulated by teammates in Liverpool, England, on July 26, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • James Rodriguez's reunion with Carlo Ancelotti at Everton, after two earlier spells together at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, shows there is no lack of ambition on the blue side of Merseyside to force themselves into the English Premier League's top six.

But their billionaire owner Farhad Moshiri's lavish spending has yet to bear much fruit at Goodison Park. Since the British-Iranian businessman took a controlling stake in the club in February 2016, over £400 million (S$700 million) has been spent on new players and the hiring and firing of high-profile coaches.

Last season, they finished 12th after Ancelotti took over in December, but the Italian has embarked on a complete rebuild of his midfield this summer. Brazil international Allan and Frenchman Abdoulaye Doucoure have each cost £20 million, with £12 million James spearheading the new-look trio.

Expressing his happiness with Everton's business in the transfer market, Ancelotti, who has won three Champions League titles with AC Milan and Real Madrid and the Premier League with Chelsea in 2010, is targeting a Europa League spot this term.

"The club did a fantastic job, these players were the priority for us," he said. "The goal we want to achieve is to fight... to be able to reach Europe next season.

"The players who arrived understand we have a project with ambition for the future. They are going to work to put their quality into the team and this club."

He needs more cover at centre-back as Yerry Mina has been hampered by niggling injuries, while there are question marks over attackers Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Moise Kean.

Everton's season starts today at Tottenham, and Spurs manager Jose Mourinho feels their opponents are now ready to go places after a slow start to Ancelotti's reign.

"When a coach of Carlo's dimension goes to a club, it is not to try to not be relegated, or to try to stay in mid-table," Mourinho explained. "It is easy to understand what Everton want, what Carlo wants.

"Then you look to the market. They brought players of high quality, they know Carlo well and a good squad becomes a much stronger squad.

"So I look at them as direct opponents (for the top six)."



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 13, 2020, with the headline 'Everton and Spurs set to battle for European spot'. Subscribe