5 Everton Players with a Point to Prove This Season
Everton's second season under Roberto Martinez is but a few days away.
Unlike predecessor David Moyes, who would often wait until the final hours of a transfer window, the Catalan has assembled the majority of his squad already and is primed for another run at a Champions League finish.
Gareth Barry, Muhamed Besic and Romelu Lukaku have all joined on permanent deals, supplementing a squad geared for four competitions, with this season's additional Europa League ties.
Ahead of the new campaign, here's a look at five of those squad members with something to prove during the coming months.
Not many reserve goalkeepers have a point to prove ahead of a new season; however, in Martinez's regime, that man has an important role to play.
The Toffees' manager insists on playing his second-choice stopper in every cup competition, meaning Joel Robles will receive several opportunities in a schedule bloated by the Europa League.
Having signed a five-year contract last summer, the former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper is yet to prove himself as anything other than unconvincing and more than a little error-prone between the sticks.
Given Evertonians' lust for silverware, Joel must show his potential during his second season at the club.
For the majority of his two-and-a-half-year stay on Merseyside, Darron Gibson has been a first-choice selection—when available.
The trouble is how little that has actually been.
Injuries continue to hamper his career, and at this stage, the Irishman has missed 59 Premier League fixtures from a possible 94 with Everton.
Once again, injury ruled him out at the start of last season, forcing the Irishman to sit and watch Barry and James McCarthy form an impressive midfield partnership.
Gibson is now no longer an automatic pick and even has Besic as additional competition. He faces a tough task re-establishing himself at Goodison Park this season.
Arouna Kone has arguably the biggest point to prove of any Everton player this season.
Signed for a questionably high fee of £6 million, per BBC Sport, the Ivorian spent a few games hashing at chances before suffering a dreadful injury against Hull in October.
Consequently, Kone missed an entire year of football and begins the season as an almost forgotten man at Goodison Park.
Having turned 30, he may struggle to rediscover his very best form.
Still not fit to play any part in pre-season, the former Wigan man will be desperate to prove himself to Evertonians and contribute in the scoring stakes.
Antolin Alcaraz was another recent signing unable to convince during his inaugural campaign.
A mixture of injuries, a dire performance in the Merseyside derby and John Stones' emergence saw the Paraguayan relegated to fourth-choice centre-back by the end of last season.
That's where he currently resides ahead of his second year at Goodison Park.
With rotation guaranteed ahead of Europa League commitments, Alcaraz should be afforded substantial playing time, though Shane Duffy and Tyias Browning are both hot on his heels.
This may seem a slightly controversial final pick. After all, Ross Barkley's potential can make him one of his nation's leading players over the coming decade.
Nevertheless, at this stage in his career, he goes into the season with a point to prove: He must start becoming important—indispensable, even—to Everton.
Given the unrelenting hype and a new four-year deal, the academy graduate must become more consistent at the Toffees and make himself an automatic selection.
As Everton chased a Champions League finish last season, Barkley played more than 45 minutes in just six of the team's final 15 games. Martinez instead went with the reliability of Steven Naismith and Leon Osman over his occasionally erratic youngster.
In his second full season, it's time for Barkley to take centre stage—and we expect he will.