Everton need to draft in a host of new recruits and make a real statement of intent in the summer, according to former Toffees defender Michael Ball. Ronald Koeman's men have all but qualified for the Europa League but have done so with a relatively small squad compared to their rivals, and Ball sees the need to sign 'six or seven' new players.
Koeman has recognised the need to strengthen his squad in order to challenge domestically and overseas, but Ball, who played under the Dutchman at PSV Eindhoven, does not want to see just squad-fillers arrive at Goodison Park.
"Everton need to make six or seven signings this summer," Ball wrote in his column for The Liverpool Echo. "And one or two of those need to be marquee recruits – the type of acquisitions to tell people that the Blues mean business.
"The aim for next season is for Everton to be strong enough to mount a challenge for the top four whilst also being able to fight on all fronts, at home and abroad. Manchester United and Manchester City have fallen below what was expected of them and they are ready to make big plays in the transfer market.
"Sure, we may be able to take advantage of that by taking some players off their hands, but we also want to go to the next level and so need to make statements of our own. Quality signings are essential, Ronald Koeman is not the sort of man to buy for the sake of it, and he knows that a Thursday-Sunday slog will require greater strength in depth than we have at present.
"Everton have to target the winning of a trophy next season and so must assemble a squad capable of delivering that, as well as one able to progress in the league.
Ball's cries for big names may well be heeded by Koeman, who will be given ample funds by Everton's majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri. The former Southampton manager is intent on bolstering his defence and has urged the Toffees hierarchy to push for Virgil van Dijk, though his £55m price tag may prove to be a bridge too far. Koeman is also interested in signing Burnley's Michael Keane and Hull City centre-back Harry Maguire.