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Phil Neville: 'Everton the team to watch next season'

Former captain Phil Neville believes that Everton now have the perfect blend of experience and youth to challenge for trophies under "brilliant manager" Ronald Koeman.

Phil Neville has praised Everton's "proactive" summer transfer activity and tipped his former club as the ones to watch next season.

The Toffees are among European football's biggest spenders so far during the summer window, splashing out close to nine figures to bring in a host of new players.

Only AC Milan, Manchester United and Manchester City have parted with more cash, while Romelu Lukaku has been sold to the Red Devils for £75m to help balance the books somewhat.

Neville believes that his ex-employers could well challenge for trophies next season, particularly after bringing in serial winner Wayne Rooney from Man United on a free contract to soften the blow of Lukaku's recent exit

"They have been very proactive, they have not waited for Lukaku to leave, they have said 'let's get our players in first and take some of the pressure off'," FourFourTwo quotes him as saying. "I remember when I was at Everton with David Moyes. We sold Joleon Lescott one summer and Mikel Arteta towards the end [of the transfer window] - when you sell those players it puts added pressure on and fans get a little angry.

"They have actually signed four or five players, the fans are happy, it softens the blow of Lukaku leaving with knowing full well there are one or two more to come. I think the signing of Rooney gels it all together for Everton. There is no way Wayne Rooney would go back to Everton if he didn't think they were going to win things, that is for sure. Everton have to look at Tottenham.

"Four or five years ago, Tottenham and Everton were on similar levels, Tottenham kicked on and Everton didn't but now I think they are well capable of doing a Tottenham - producing a young team with a brilliant manager in Ronald Koeman. Everton have bought quality and what is more exciting is the young players breaking through - couple that with Wayne Rooney and it should be good. Everton could be one of the teams to watch this year."

As well as signing Rooney, Everton have also brought in Davy Klaassen, Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Sandro Ramirez and Henry Onyekuru.

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Theo Walcott celebrates opening the scoring during the Champions League game between Arsenal and Bayern Munich on March 7, 2017
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Thursday's key events


ATHLETICS
· The women's heptathlon continues with the long jump, javelin and 800m, with Katarina Johnson-Thompson now out of contention following an injury (1.10am-1.40pm)
· Andrew Pozzi pursues his dream of an Olympic medal in the men's 110m hurdles final (3.55am)
· Tom Bosworth and Callum Wilkinson are among the British hopes in the men's 20km race walk (8.30am)
· Holly Bradshaw aims to improve on fifth in Rio to challenge Greece's Katerina Stefanidi and Anzhelika Sidorova of Russia for an unlikely medal in the women's pole vault (11am)
· London 2012 champion Kirani James goes up against current world champion Steven Gardiner in the men's 400m final (1pm)

MARATHON SWIMMING
· One of the toughest Olympic events takes place in Tokyo Bay as GB's Hector Pardoe takes on the men's 20km marathon swim (10.30pm Wed)

BOXING
· Galal Yafai takes on takes on Kazakhstan's Saken Bibossinov for a spot in the gold medal bout of the fly (48kg-52kg) class (6.48am)

DIVING
· Lois Toulson and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix (daughter of First Dates' Fred Sirieix) line up for the women's 10m platform (semi-final 2am; final 7am)

HOCKEY
· Australia face Belgium in the men's final (11am)

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