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Leighton Baines says Wayne Rooney can help Everton end trophy drought

 


Leighton Baines believes Wayne Rooney will be a key influence on Everton’s pursuit of a first trophy since 1995 but that there remains a gap between the Premier League’s leading pack and Ronald Koeman’s expensively-assembled side.

Everton have spent almost £100m on seven additions to their senior ranks and Koeman still hopes to sign Gylfi Sigurdsson, valued at £50m by Swansea City, a striker, plus a left-sided defender before the transfer deadline.

Baines admits “it is an exciting time” to be an Everton player and supporter – both, in his case – and this season’s objective is to end the club’s 22-year trophy drought.

But the left-back has cautioned Everton have a formidable challenge ahead with the majority of leading clubs investing heavily this summer.

“A trophy is the ultimate goal and I think that is what the manager has come here to do – to push us on to another level, and get us there,” the England international said.

“During my time and in recent seasons we have just been beneath, we have come close a few times with cup finals, semi-finals, trips to Wembley but falling at the final hurdle. So we have to take that step.

“As a fan, absolutely it would be the ultimate. That is going to be the objective with this project that the manager has taken on. Obviously with the new owner and with the chairman, that is the objective, to take that next step.

Everyone understands it will be tough. Tough to spend the money, yes we can go out and do it, but everyone else is going out to do it too. We have already got a bit of a gap to bridge and we are working on it and we hope to do it.”

Baines’s deflected goal gave Everton a 1-0 win over Ruzomberok in the Europa League third qualifying round first leg on Thursday as Koeman’s team understandably laboured, four weeks into pre-season.

Rooney missed a few chances at centre-forward on his homecoming before switching to the right when new signing Sandro Ramírez was introduced in the second half. Baines insists the 31 -year-old will have an impact on and off the pitch for Everton this season.