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Everton

Atalanta vs Everton: Europa League match preview, likely line-ups and score prediction

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Ronald Koeman’s Everton side will line-up in the Europa League group-stages for the first time in three years when they take the trip to Italy to face up to Serie A side Atalanta on Thursday evening.

On that occasion the Toffees made it to the round of 16 before falling short against Ukrainian side Dynamo Kiev, and they will no doubt want to take a step closer to the knock-outs with a victory first-up.

By contrast, Atalanta will be taking part in European competition for the first time in 26 years following their shock fourth-place finish last season, finishing above the likes of Inter, AC Milan and Lazio.

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After starting the season in promising fashion after an opening day win over Stoke City, Koeman’s side have found it tough going in recent clashes with title-chasing Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham.

They were unfortunate not to come away with three points from the Etihad but their previous two fixtures against the London sides have been uninspiring to say the least, offering limited resistance.

Their fortunes have been slightly better on a European front, easing past Slovakian minnows MFK Ruzomberok before seeing off Croatian team Hajduk Split to secure their spot in the group-stages.

On the other side, the hosts have had an equally inconsistent start to the Serie A season, falling to consecutive defeats to Roma and Napoli before claiming their first victory on Sunday over Sassuolo.

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There doesn’t appear to be any fresh injury concerns for the visitors after Saturday’s limp defeat to Tottenham, with Koeman having a full squad at his disposal as he looks to re-find a winning formula.

The only men unavailable are the long-term absentees James McCarthy, Yannick Bolasie, Seamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes-Mori and Ross Barkley, whilst Oumar Niasse is not in the 27-strong squad.

The Dutchman could ring the changes for Thursday night through, with Mason Holgate, Ademola Lookman, Tom Davies and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all in contention for a first proper European start.

Atalanta are expected to continue with their 3-4-3 formation as they go in search of a first victory in European competition since 1991, with ex-Middlesbrough midfielder Marten de Roon in-line for a start.

Predicted Line-Ups
Match Prediction: Atalanta 1-0 Everton

Whilst most people will no doubt need to take to Google to try and find out just who on earth Everton’s opponents are on Thursday, Atalanta will provide a real stern test of the Toffees’ European credentials.

They were Serie A’s surprise package last season, finishing convincingly in fourth place in the end, and they secured victories both home and away against Napoli before holding Juventus and Roma to draws.

The Italians don’t concede many goals at home – letting in just 18 goals in 19 matches last year – and with Everton struggling to find the net recently it could be a tough and equally frustrating evening in Italy.

Will is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, specialising in the art of sports. Long-time suffering Northampton Town fan who once saw us win a league title. Find him on Twitter - @96PearsonW.

Everton

Everton round-up: Mooy wanted, Loftus-Cheek and Wilshere on radar, Niasse targeted

Mathew Nash

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Please sir, may I have some Mooy?

The Sun are reporting Everton’s interest in Australian midfielder Aaron Mooy. They suggest that the Toffees are keen on the Huddersfield Town star, who is also wanted by West Ham United and Southampton.

The former Manchester City talent was crucial for the Terriers last season in their hunt for Premier League survival.

Now valued at around £18 million it appears the midfielder is now on the radar at Goodison Park.

(Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

England internationals wanted

He is not the only midfielder being linked with Everton this weekend. The Mirror are reporting two England internationals are catching the eye of Everton this summer.

The report suggests Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere are being targeted.

Loftus-Cheek, currently on England duty at the World Cup, is said to be available on loan again after his brilliant stint at Crystal Palace. Wilshere, on the other hand, is a free agent after failing to agree on a new deal with his boyhood club Arsenal.

Niasse exit?

Oumar Niasse is being considered as the back-up transfer option for Galatasaray this summer. The Istanbul club want Ahmed Musa of Leicester city to be their new striking option. However, they are also keeping tabs on the Everton star.

The report from beIN Sports, as relayed by Goal.com, suggest that Marco Silva will have the final say on Niasse, with the rest of the Everton hierarchy happy to let him go.

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Everton

Ruben Loftus-Cheek could prove the silver lining in Ross Barkley exit

Everton are believed to be interested in a deal for the England midfielder.

Mathew Nash

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Everton are said to be in the hunt for Ruben Loftus-Cheek this summer. The Mirror reports that the Chelsea and England midfielder is wanted at Goodison Park along with Arsenal’s out-of-contract star Jack Wilshere.

Loftus-Cheek dazzled during a loan spell at Crystal Palace last season and has made his way into the England team since. He is widely expected to start England’s second game of the World Cup against Panama later today.

The report claims he is available for another loan deal. But Everton will surely have designs on him becoming a permanent fixture if they decide to bring him in.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

If that transpires to be the case, then Everton might end up having the last laugh regarding the sale of Ross Barkley.

The enigmatic midfielder joined Chelsea from Everton in January. The fee, as reported by The Times, was around £15 million. It was a controversial deal. Six months previously the two clubs had agreed a £35 million deal, only for Barkley to pull out. With just months left on his contract, Everton had to accept the depreciated value of Chelsea’s second bid. The deal was so controversial, even Liverpool’s mayor got involved.

But if Barkley’s presence is preventing Loftus-Cheek, and he ends up at Everton, then the Toffees will have struck lucky.

The midfielder looks like everything Barkley has always promised to be but with just a little bit extra.

Loftus-Cheek could end up being the silver lining in the debacle that was the Barkley transfer.

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Croatia

Everton’s reported move for Croatia defender Domagoj Vida would seriously improve defence

The Croatia international would bolster Marco Silva’s options significantly.

Jamie Watts

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The world’s eyes were on Croatia last night, as Zlatko Dalic’s side dismantled Argentina 3-0. And a number of high-profile targets for Premier League clubs were in action. However, it appears Everton have identified a potential target that isn’t one of the household names, in Domagoj Vida, according to reports from Turkish outlet SABAH.

The defender currently plies his trade for Turkish giants Besiktas, having joined from Dynamo Kiev on a free transfer in January. But the 30-year-old has struggled to nail down a regular starting place at Vodafone Park. And Marco Silva could now swoop for his services, as he looks to bolster his defensive options ahead of his first season in-charge at Goodison Park.

The defender’s performance last night suggests he could be a serious coup for Silva if a deal can be completed. Vida partnered Liverpool regular Dejan Lovren at centre-back and managed to keep a star-studded Argentina attack; including the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala quiet for the duration of the game.

Photo: Getty Images

His aggression and determination was evident for all to see, as a string of last-ditch blocks and slide tackles rounded off a brilliant display for Croatia, as they secured a clean-sheet. And the dogged attitude the player showed last night, is what was largely missing from Everton’s rear-guard last term.

Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka are coming to the latter stages of their careers with the Blues, and with the departure of Ramiro Funes Mori yesterday (BBC Sport), a deal for Vida would make perfect sense on Merseyside this summer.

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