Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers took the majority of the acclaim on Merseyside last season for reviving Liverpool's fortunes at the top of the Premier League table, but down the road at Goodison Park, Roberto Martinez was doing an equally remarkable job at Everton.
While they may have ultimately ended the campaign outside of the top four, the Toffees were strong contenders for a Champions League spot for most of the season, but if Everton and Martinez can continue to evolve over the next 12 months, they have a realistic chance of edging out some major names in the race for a place at Europe's top table.
With that in mind and taking Everton's budget into consideration, Sports Mole has selected three players that would add quality and depth to a squad that could be stretched if they progress in the Europa League.
1. Demba Ba, Chelsea
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Ever since his opening six months at Chelsea brought just two Premier League goals in 14 appearances, Demba Ba has frequently been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge, but after Jose Mourinho decided to keep him at the club, the Senegalese attacker chipped in with eight goals in 29 appearances, including the decisive strike in Chelsea's Champions League quarter-final with Paris Saint-Germain.
However, with Diego Costa expected to sign from Atletico Madrid and Fernando Torres likely to extend his turbulent stay in West London by another 12 months, Ba could again find himself on the periphery of the squad, and that is likely to see a number of English clubs lodge bids for the 29-year-old, who holds a record of 43 goals in 99 Premier League fixtures.
With Romelu Lukaku returning to the Blues, Martinez could attempt to strike a deal with Mourinho as he looks to battle on both the domestic and European fronts next season. The Toffees potentially need three forwards if they are to have strength in numbers, and with the injury-stricken Arouna Kone providing the only option for Martinez, he needs to act quickly and a deal, whether it be on a permanent or temporary basis, for Ba seems to be the logical move.
2. Salomon Kalou, Lille
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During the early parts of the summer, Everton have been constantly linked with attack-minded players, and while they can boast some quality talent in the final third of the pitch, Martinez will need to spend his transfer budget wisely if he is to give himself plenty of options throughout the campaign.
A player that could could provide quality in a number of positions is former Chelsea winger Salomon Kalou. The Ivorian netted 60 goals from 251 appearances, many of which came from the substitutes' bench, for the Blues, and that impressive return has continued during his time at Lille, where he has scored 30 goals during two seasons in France's top flight.
Recent reports have suggested that the 28-year-old, who also has 68 caps on the international stage, is available for a cut-price fee of £5m, and that is likely to see an array of English clubs make their interest known to the Ligue 1 outfit. However, rather than find himself on the sidelines with a team competing in the Champions League, Kalou could relish the prospect of a move to a club competing in Europe that would provide him with regular appearances from the opening whistle, and with starting berths available on the flanks and up top at Goodison Park, Martinez could secure a real coup if he can seal a deal for the attacker.
3. Gary Medel, Cardiff City
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After the emergence of John Stones last season and the arrival of Gareth Barry earlier this week, Everton are well stocked in the central defence and central midfield areas, but if they are to build on a fifth-place finish and compete in Europe, they are likely to require someone who has proven quality and can add some versatility to their squad.
While a cheaper option may present itself in mainland Europe, it may be a shrewd move by Martinez to make a bid for Cardiff City's Gary Medel. The Chile international, who featured in all four of his nation's World Cup matches in Brazil, was brought in by the Bluebirds to try to ensure their survival in the top flight, but despite failing to do so, Medel's stock in England has risen after his combative displays for Cardiff were followed up by more of the same for his country.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed at the start of the week that he had received several enquiries for the 26-year-old, with Inter Milan known to be keen on a season-long loan deal. However, after his exploits at the World Cup, Cardiff are likely to be eager to cash in on Medel, and while Everton won't be able to match the £11m fee that the Welsh club paid last summer, an offer in the region of £8m could be enough, and if the former Sevilla man was to arrive on Merseyside, he could potentially have the character to add an extra dimension to the belief already present in the blue half of Liverpool.