Everton manager Ronald Koeman has warned his Everton players that they are playing for their long-term futures at the club.
The Toffees had a busy summer transfer window, buying seven new players, including Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie and Aston Villa’s Idrissa Gueye.
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Outgoings saw veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard leave the club after 10 seasons, as well as John Stones’ high-profile move to big spenders Manchester City.
The Dutch manager is looking to strengthen his squad in January as they push for a top five finish at the end of the campaign.
“We play the games now but in the long term you want to make the squad stronger than it is now,” Koeman told The Telegraph.
“It is all about performances from individual players. You make choices about what will happen now and to the end of the season.
“We’d like to improve and to make the team stronger and then finally you go for the best players.
“If you have that quality in, then you keep that, but in several aspects we need to improve and we will do that.”
“It is always difficult in January, more difficult than in summer. We sign players in positions where we need better quality or more competition but it is always difficult. It is not about the number of players.
“Mostly we did good business in the summer but we were unlucky. The boy [Yannick] Bolasie was very unlucky with his injury and we don’t have him for a long time now so it is normal that we look for someone else in that position.”
One of the major potential leavers in January could be midfielder Ross Barkley.
The 23-year-old has struggled to hold down a regular first-team spot under Koeman and is reportedly subject to interest from Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea should he decide to move on.
Everton are in seventh place on 27 points, nine off Tottenham Hotspur who are in fifth, which is where the Toffees will be aiming to finish the season.