Apr 232014

Striker has been blighted by injury since joining the Blues from Monaco in January

Roberto Martinez has hinted he wants to open talks with the on-loan Lacina Traore over a new deal.

The giant forward has been blighted by injury since joining the Blues from Monaco in January and played just over an hour of football.

But it appears that Martinez is keen to keep the 6’8” Ivory Coast international at the club for next season.

Everton FC are in hot pursuit of fourth placed Arsenal in the race for the Champions League and Martinez says that if the Blues qualify for European competition next season then he wants four strikers in his squad.

Arouna Kone is expected to be fit for the new campaign after missing most of this term with a knee injury and Martinez will also count Steven Naismith as one of his forwards next season.

Fans’ favourite Romelu Lukaku, on a season-long loan from Chelsea, is expected to be Everton’s number one summer transfer target but Martinez is also keen on signing-up Traore for a second spell – most likely on another loan deal.

“It depends on our European demands,” Martinez said.

“If we are competing in Europe then we will need four strikers.

“Steven Naismith and Arouna Kone are two players who are important in our squad and we need to make sure we are at the start of the next season with a strong squad and in my eyes, we will be having four strikers in the group.

“Lacina is someone we really believe can bring something different to the team and he is someone we will try to see if we can get an opportunity to sit down and see what is the next chapter.”

Traore arrived at Goodison Park nursing a hamstring injury but made a scoring debut in January’s FA Cup win over Swansea City.

However the former Anzhi Makhachkala forward picked up a fresh hamstring problem during the warm-up ahead of February’s Premier League game at Chelsea.

The Ivorian has been sidelined ever since and Martinez says he does not expect Traore to be fit before the end of the campaign.

But the Everton manager appears keen to keep the 23-year-old at Goodison for next season.

Martinez, meanwhile, says the Blues are working behind the scenes to ensure that their crop of exciting young players are rewarded for their progress this season.

The Catalan recently said that James McCarthy, Seamus Coleman, Ross Barkley and John Stones were in line for new deals.

“As I always say we are not going to come out in the press and media and do our business that way,” Martinez added.

“But as a football club we will always reward players that perform and develop well.

“We will always work hard behind the scenes to deal and work with those in an efficient manner.

“And when we’ve done something the fans will be the first to find out.

“We have got a very strong core of experienced players and the signing of Tim Howard, alongside Leighton Baines and Sylvain Distin on new deals, is a massive message.

“And then we have a young group who we are going to allow to develop in our football club and be given the time, patience and the focus that they deserve to grow in to the potential we know they have.

“We always try to go from window to window trying to get in a stronger position in terms of the squad.

“We will never change that.”

More Everton FC news:

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