By Dominic Toner
Former Liverpool player Didi Hamann believes that Everton can climb five places and finish in the Premier League top six this season.
Ronald Koeman was appointed the new manager manager at Goodison Park this summer and Hamann thinks he can turn around the fortunes of the Merseyside club.
“We saw Leicester – and to a lesser extent West Ham and Southampton – break the stranglehold of the big guns last season and this term I can see Everton being the best of the rest and maybe nicking a top six spot,” Hamann told the Echo. “I’m a huge fan of Ross Barkley who I know seems to divide opinions at Goodison, but he’s a matchwinner.
“I’m sure John Stones is only going to improve as a defender, especially under Ronald Koeman who is the outstanding manager the club needs.”
Koeman joins Everton with an impressive CV after managing top European clubs such as Ajax, Benfica, PSV Eindhoven and Valencia.
The Dutchman helped guide Southampton to a sixth-placed finish last season and will now hope to achieve similar success at Everton.
The Merseyside club underachieved last campaign and ended up 11th in the table, shipping 55 league goals in the process.
Koeman has begun shaping his new squad with the addition of midfielder Idrissa Gueye, who joined from Aston Villa on a four-year contract after a £7.1million release clause was triggered.
Sky Sports claim that Everton are standing firm on their £50million price tag of John Stones and have told Manchester City to take it or leave it.
The Mirror report that the Merseyside club are set to offer forward Romelu Lukaku a £135-000-a-week deal and make him their highest ever paid player, in order to prevent him sealing a return to former club Chelsea.
Everton last finished inside the top six during the 2013-14 season and are expected to challenge at the top-end of the table with a young talented squad, including the likes of Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu, Stones and Lukaku.
In other Everton team news, fans have reacted on Twitter after Muhamed Besic is sidelined until February.