Ambitious Everton in race for Champions League-ready back

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Having suffered from a seeming lack of belief during the summer, despite landing first-choice managerial target Ronald Koeman, there are signs that Everton’s achievements could eventually match their ambitions.

News has filtered through over the past few months regarding plans for a new stadium, with Bramley Moore Dock on the River Mersey thought to be in owner Farhad Moshiri’s sights, while events on the pitch have gone largely according to plan since Koeman took charge.

Despite being one of just four Premier League sides to turn a profit on transfers during the summer window, and missing out on big-money targets such as Moussa Sissoko, Kalidou Koulibaly and Julian Draxler, the Toffees are just four points off leaders Manchester City after eight games of the season.

Ladbrokes go 10/1 (top price) about Everton making the top four, which is what Koeman needs to achieve if he is to turn the blue half of Merseyside into an attractive proposition and subsequently improve a squad dotted with class, yet severely lacking in areas.

Selling centre-half John Stones to City for £47.5m seemed prudent considering Phil Jagielka and new signing Ashley Williams are around to pick up the slack, but with the pair’s combined ages exceeding that of an OAP, fresh blood is required.

Napoli’s Koulibaly was targeted during the summer, with Chelsea also keen on the Senegal regular, but £50m-plus for the 25-year-old proved a stretch for both clubs.

Ruben Semedo is the latest name linked with Goodison Park, after the 22-year-old’s ferocious start to the campaign for Sporting Lisbon, particularly in their heartbreaking 2-1 Champions League loss to Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, where Os Leoes led 1-0 with two minutes to go.

Koeman was rumoured to be plotting a £12m move for Semedo while still Southampton boss in early June, but reports suggest Sporting included a £40m release clause in the Portugal U21 international’s new contract in March, which appeared to keep clubs at bay during the summer.

Chelsea are also thought to be keeping tabs on Semedo, who made 29 Primeira Liga appearances last term at Sporting and on loan with Vitoria Setubal.

At 6ft2 and with a background in street football, Semedo is seen as an all-action centre-half – who can also play in midfield – possessing bags of pace and excellent aerial ability, similar in style to the likes of Real and France stalwart Raphael Varane.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Iain Houten

Iain has been contributing pieces to various websites on an array of subjects, including sports, politics and art, for over four years. Despite blue being his favourite colour, the teams he supports all wear red.