Kevin Mirallas: Everton can make Premier League top four

By David OrnsteinBBC Sport
Kevin Mirallas on persuading Romelu Lukaku to join Everton

Everton are confident of qualifying for next season's Champions League, says midfielder Kevin Mirallas.

The Toffees sit fourth after six Premier League games and remain the only unbeaten team ahead of Saturday's trip to Manchester City.

"The coach [Roberto Martinez] and the team certainly believe we can do this," Mirallas, 25, told BBC Sport.

"We're playing well and it's not by investing in £30m or £40m players. The team is better this season than last."

The closest Everton came to competing in the Champions League was in 2005 when, after finishing fourth in the Premier League, they were beaten 4-2 on aggregate by Villarreal in the qualifying round.

David Moyes subsequently led Everton to fifth-place finishes in 2008 and 2009, while they came sixth last season before Moyes left to become and was

Martinez promised to guide the club to and Mirallas feels Everton are well placed to cause a surprise.

"We've had a really good start and we've also got a very good team," explained the Belgian, who for £6m in 2012 and has scored nine goals in 40 appearances.

"Probably most people would not have believed we would be where we are now, but we want to maintain that.

"It's important that we continue this run. We don't know how long it's going to last for, but it's important we win as many games as we can and I think we could find ourselves in a good position."

Everton sold Marouane Fellaini to Manchester United on the final day of the summer transfer window, but were boosted by the permanent signing of James McCarthy from Wigan and loan deals for Gareth Barry from Manchester City and Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea.

Mirallas was on international duty with Lukaku on transfer deadline day and helped him make a decision that has so far paid off, with the 20-year-old striker scoring three goals in as many appearances.

Reports suggest Mirallas refused to leave his team-mate's hotel room until he was assured Lukaku would spurn interest from West Brom and West Ham in favour of a move to Goodison Park.

"I did spend time persuading him - I told him I believed this was the club for him to sign for and he's proven it," said Mirallas.

"It's true we spent a good two to three hours together. We had a bit of a joke and spoke a lot about it. I wanted to make sure he made the best choice for him, but I also wanted to make sure he signed for Everton."

Attention has also focused on 19-year-old midfielder Ross Barkley, who has featured in all six of Everton's league games so far and made his England debut in September's over Moldova.

"Barkley is young and obviously the whole of England, and Everton, are expecting great things from him," added Mirallas.

"He certainly adds to the team here. As an individual he is a very calm person and he's very nice. But he works really hard in training as well.

"I've played with lots of good young talent, such as Yohan Cabaye and Eden Hazard. At the moment it is too early to say [how good he can be]. He's played probably about 20 games, but he's definitely got potential."

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