Premier League season preview: Everton - predicted finish 6th

Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku is Everton's marquee summer signing. Photo: PA

Predicted finish: 6th

Transfers so far:

Ins: Gareth Barry (Manchester City, Free), Muhamed Besic (Ferencvaros, Undisclosed), Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea, £28m), Brendan Galloway (MK Dons, Undisclosed)

Outs: Mason Springthorpe - Released, Apostolos Vellios - Released, Magaye Gueye (Millwall), Ibou Touray - Released

Everton
Prized defender John Stones has committed to the club, signing a new five-year contract. Credit: PA

New signings - the verdict:

Romelu Lukaku left Chelsea - and Champions League football - to become Everton's club record signing for £28m. The 21-year-old Belgian signed a five-year contract, a statement of intent from the player but also the club; Lukaku could yet become the Premier League's best striker, and he is exactly the sort of player who can transform an ambitious second-tier club into a top-four threat. It should help Lukaku considerably that he knows his way around Goodison already, and has established a rapport with the club's fans - the record price tag should not weigh heavily on his shoulders.

Gareth Barry is also a 'new' player who knows the club well. He was very impressive on loan last season - to the point of pushing hard for an England recall - and is a canny acquisition from Manchester City.

Muhamed Besic is one genuinely new player who should add both style and bite to Everton's midfield (more on him below), while 18-year-old defender Brendan Galloway is one for the future - he has been likened many times to Rio Ferdinand.

Arguably Everton's best business has been in keeping hold of coveted young stars Ross Barkley, John Stones and Seamus Coleman, and all on long-term contracts. Martinez is carefully and quietly building a squad with huge potential.

One to watch: Muhamed Besic

The Berlin-born Bosnian, signed from Ferencvaros for £4m, is a combative, balanced midfielder who really caught the eye at the World Cup in Brazil. Besic has settled in quickly at Everton. Martinez said of the 21-year-old after his debut in Leon Osman’s testimonial: "For a player to feel at home so quickly is incredible… he has looked like a player who had been at Everton for three years. That’s what I saw at the World Cup – someone who’s not fazed by anything."

Everton
Everton new boy Muhamed Besic leaves his opponents trailing in pre-season. Credit: PA

Manager: Roberto Martinez

Martinez led Everton to fifth place (72 points, +22 goal difference) last season in his first campaign at the club, and by playing a far more attractive brand of football than his predecessor David Moyes. The club's fans couldn't have asked for more than that. Martinez also happens to be modest, charming and hugely likable – but above all he is a very good football manager who always does his homework. That said, he will have his work cut out to match fifth place in his second season, mainly because Manchester United (seventh under Moyes in 2013/14) have got their act together, whilst Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool are all stronger than 12 months ago. But Martinez will oversee progress that runs deeper than a finishing place. It's what he does.

Everton
Roberto Martinez watches his team closely in pre-season. Credit: PA

Your predictions:

Zpkqbgcv_normal

@itvfootball If Lukaku can stay fit and on form then I see no reason why they can't finish in the top 4

Ludugefu_normal

@itvfootball We will finish between 5th and 7th. Think we are still abit short to finish in Top 4 IMHO

Np6vdlpr_normal

@itvfootball finish between 4th-6th but wherever it is it will be above Liverpool