Roberto Martinez gave an encouraging interview to the Liverpool Echo earlier this week in which he claimed the number 10 position is “the main area [Everton] need to improve”. Whilst the interview casts doubt over Ross Barkley’s future in the role and Steven Naismith’s future at the club, it’s possible incomings that interests me for now. With Martinez also suggesting English football does not adequately develop this type of player, it’s likely the continent will provide his list of targets. Here’s my top five picks from around Europe:
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1) Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, Monaco.

Tall, quick, skilful, bold, direct, cocky – Carrasco is everything you want an attacker to be. Primarily a left wing creator, scoring has become more common as he’s drifted into a more central attacking role. Five goals and 10 assists this season suggests he can address two problems at Goodison. Although highly unlikely given Carrasco’s outstanding Champions League season, the highlight of which was Monaco’s excellent third goal away at Arsenal, there is one secret weapon in Everton’s armour: Christophe Hentoray. He bloody loves the Blues! With four Belgian stamps on his Goodison loyalty card already, Carrasco’s agent will naturally be keen to claim his free pint of Chang with a fifth deal. The fee is likely to be close to £10m which I’d suggest is good value.

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2) Sergio Canales, Real Sociedad.

Starting at Real Madrid then moving on to Valencia, Canales failed at both and developed a reputation as flaky – highly capable but essentially lazy. He was forced to downgrade and move to Real Sociedad, reportedly amidst Everton interest. Enter David Moyes. Since taking the reins in San Sebastian, Moyes has introduced a higher degree of discipline than Canales was used to, and his faith has paid dividends, most notably the midfielder’s dogged display and match-winning assist in La Real’s 1-0 win over Barcelona. Moyes however recently axed Canales in a “private, internal matter” making it fairly conceivable that a chance to play a freer, more creative role in a new league, under a Spanish manager no less, would tempt Canales. A £5m bid – double what Sociedad paid in January 2014 – should comfortably do it, perhaps containing a ‘Call it quits’ clause for old man Moyes from Everton supporters.

 3) Lewis Holtby, Tottenham(ish)

Holtby is still officially a Tottenham player despite January rumours suggesting his loan move to the seriously atrocious Hamburg had become permanent. Return to Spurs and he’ll likely be positioned on the wing where he previously struggled or he’ll play second fiddle to Spurs’ best player, Christian Eriksen. Return to Hamburg, where he was recently filmed arguing with supporters in sweary, desperate fashion, and in all probability he’ll be fighting relegation again. Although perhaps the trickiest transfer of this list given Spurs’ rumoured interest in Kevin Mirallas and Daniel Levy’s renowned negotiating acumen, an Evertonian of Holtby’s considerable creativity is always worth asking a question about.

4) Nolito, Celta Vigo

Ever since Nolito turned up at Prenton Park with Celta Vigo last summer, scored an excellent first-half hat-trick and generally made a show of Everton, many Blues, particularly this one, have been dreaming of signing him. 32 games, 11 goals, 12 assists and, like Canales, a superb display against Barcelona later, it’s quite clear that hypothetical reality has become a more expensive one – a comfortable club record sale of £13m if TalkSport are to be believed. Which of course they’re not. Recent results have put paid to Celta’s Europa League hopes after what has been a promising but inconsistent campaign which increases the likelihood of a sale. Like Carrasco, Nolito’s ability to play both on the left and in the centre would be a tremendous asset for Everton. For now, we can continue to dream.

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5) Hakim Ziyech, FC Twente.

Reports last summer suggested Everton had scouted highly rated Dutch creator Hakim Ziyech throughout Martinez’s debut campaign. Then at Heerenveen, Ziyech ended up switching to FC Twente motivated by the assurance he’d play in his favoured no. 10 role. Despite a poor campaign for The Tukkers, Ziyech has had a fantastic season. His record speaks for itself: 32 appearances, 11 goals and 15 assists. Just turned 22, Ziyech has plenty of development remaining, not to mention that increasingly important sell-on potential. Graziano Pelle and Dušan Tadić’s smooth transitions to the Premier League will convince many a manager in this country to look harder at the Eredivisie. If so, Ziyech’s name is likely to come up pretty quickly. Given Everton’s apparent familiarity with the player, Martinez would do well to make his move early and pay the approximate £10m to seal one of Holland’s most exciting young players. 
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Click here to read ‘Lukaku déjà vu: 20-goal Belgian grabs his sixth in six against West Ham to seal Everton win’.
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By Chris Smith
Follow me on Twitter @cdsmith789.

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