LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — After reining in its spending in recent years, Everton splashed out a club-record fee of 28 million pounds ($47 million) on Romelu Lukaku to signal its intention to compete with the top teams in the Premier League once again this season.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez hailed the arrival of the Belgium striker from Chelsea as a "very significant day in the history of our club . a footballing statement of what we want to do."
Martinez's squad has barely changed — his two major signings, Lukaku and midfielder Gareth Barry, were both there on loan last season — but there's still a sense of optimism swirling around Goodison Park ahead of the new campaign.
And there should be, with Martinez proving a breath of fresh air in his first year as David Moyes' replacement and guiding the team to a fifth-place finish last season. The haul of 72 points was a record for the club in the Premier League era and just as impressive was the style and attractiveness of the football Everton produced.
In Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman, Everton boasts two of the best attacking fullbacks in English football and young midfielder Ross Barkley will be looking to follow up a breakthrough season that earned him a call up to England's World Cup squad.
But Lukaku is Martinez's big hope.
"I am looking at that No. 9 position — and I am probably biased — but he is potentially the best choice in world football," Martinez said.
In: Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea), Muhamed Besic (Ferencvaros), Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Brendon Galloway (MK Dons)
Out: Magaye Gueye (Millwall).