Everton V Stoke at Goodison Park : Match Preview

11 August 2017
Everton keen to show we have big ambitions - Ronald Koeman

Everton are ready to do their talking on the pitch after a summer in which they have made the size of their ambitions clear.

Manager Ronald Koeman has been backed heavily in the transfer market and spent around B#90million to sign a host of players.

Business has included bringing back the club's former prodigy Wayne Rooney from Manchester United and landing highly-rated talent in Michael Keane, Jordan Pickford and Davy Klaassen.

And the Toffees are not finished there, as negotiations continue with Swansea over B#50m-rated playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Optimism and expectations are rising at Goodison Park, and although Koeman is not making bold promises about breaking into the Premier League's top six, the Dutchman is confident.

"First of all we have big ambitions," said Koeman ahead of Saturday's league opener at home to Stoke. "That is what we would like to show to everybody.

"Like everybody knows we are still working on some targets and that is difficult, but if we can do the business we want I think we are stronger than last season.

"But of course it is difficult with the big clubs. You need one or two struggling in this season and maybe you can make the next step. If all the big ones are really strong and doing what they need, it is very difficult."

Koeman says he will only be able to make a true assessment of his team after they complete their transfer business.

He said: "The end of the transfer window is more realistic to speak about targets and what is possible.

"We know we have spent money but everybody is spending money, everybody is looking for the best players."

The downside for Everton has been the loss of top scorer Romelu Lukaku to United - albeit in a deal potentially worth B#90m - while the future of midfielder Ross Barkley remains uncertain.

Lukaku scored 25 goals last term and the likes of Rooney and another new signing, Sandro Ramirez, will have a tough act to follow.

Koeman said: "To replace Lukaku is really difficult. I don't say impossible but 25 goals is a lot and we need to find other ways. We need to find productivity from other players.

"We have brought some players in like Klaassen and Sandro Ramirez and we would like to bring some more in."

Everton face a difficult start to the season, with the visit of Stoke followed by games against Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and United.

Koeman said: "We know it is a tough start but it is all about, in 38 games, getting the points.

"In the Premier League if you think you have an easy start you will pay for that. And if you think it's a really tough start maybe it is different because everybody is not on his best at this stage of the season, the end of the pre-season."

Stoke could complete the signing of Bruno Martins Indi before the game but it will not be done in time for him to feature.

Potters boss Mark Hughes has been trying to get the 25-year-old centre-half back to the bet365 Stadium on a permanent basis following his successful loan spell last season.

Negotiations with Porto have proved frustrating but Press Association Sport understands a deal just in excess of B#7million has now been agreed and the player has settled his own outstanding contractual issues with the Portuguese club, which had been a contributory factor in delaying the deal.

"My understanding is it's very close," said Hughes. "All being well, he should be with us today (Friday) at some point and hopefully we will get that done.

"It's one that's frustrated a lot of people, not least myself, but now it's likely to get done unless there's any last-minute hitches, but we don't anticipate any.

"It's probably going to be a day too late (for Everton game). He will have a medical and that takes time, so the thinking is he will be ready to go from Monday."

Hughes is under no illusions that it will be a difficult early test for his team.

"They've brought good players in but lost key players too, like Lukaku. Clearly Wayne Rooney has the ability to fill that space," said Hughes, who had a brief spell at Goodison Park towards the end of his playing career.

"They've got a good side and they've spent money from letting good players go, perhaps similar to Southampton a couple of years ago.

"It's always a close game when we play Everton - a draw and they won by a single goal last season. There is always a turnover of players at this stage and you don't know until you start playing where you are. We are looking forward to getting started."