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Friday 15 December 2017

Everton set heights high with Traore

Lacina Traore praised Everton's style of play
Lacina Traore praised Everton's style of play

Everton manager Roberto Martinez may have signed one of the tallest players in European football but he insists Lacina Traore's giant stature reflects the club's ambition and not a change in style.

The 6ft 8in Ivory Coast international has signed on loan from Monaco, whom he only joined early in the month from Anzhi Makhachkala for a reported £16million.

Traore rejected West Ham, who had already obtained a work permit for the striker, for Martinez's purer footballing principals and the Toffees boss insists they will not change even with the biggest of big front men up top.

Romelu Lukaku's ankle injury, likely to keep him out for several weeks, means there is a void at centre-forward following the sale of Nikica Jelavic to Hull but Traore is still at least 10 days away from full fitness after a hamstring problem.

It means either Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith will be asked to fill in during the interim but Traore's anticipated inclusion will not prompt a change of tactics for Martinez.

"What we don't want is to rush Lacina and then he breaks down and we can't have him for the whole season," said the Spaniard.

"His size will give you the wrong impression of the way he is as a footballer.

"He is technically very gifted, he has a real understanding of the space and combination play around him and is really quick with his penetrating runs, he is a real athlete.

"All those aspects make us a little bit different because we haven't got that sort of player with that presence and height.

"But we will never change the way we are as a team; our footballing concepts are really clear but the personnel changes bring little tricks and different aspects of our attacking play.

"Romelu has been very influential and you don't have many opportunities to replace him on a like-for-like basis but the flexibility and different combinations and partnerships we have in the final third are exciting.

"We have options up front; Romelu has been in outstanding form and has been leading the line and having the opportunity but we have other players who have been showing good signs and are desperate to help the team and that is what we need.

"I am happy we can do different things to still be a good force going forward."

Traore knows he needs game time in order to be in the best shape to secure a place in Ivory Coast's World Cup squad this summer.

He believes a spell working under Martinez can assist him in that, which is why he opted for Everton over West Ham who were first in line and had already secured a work permit before the Merseysiders joined the race for his services.

"I looked at the styles of play of the two teams we are talking about and the way in which Everton play is more of a passing side and that style suited my technical ability," said the 23-year-old.

"Also I looked at where they were in the league and they (Everton) were quite well off for points in the league so I think with that sort of emphasis on skill and the passing game I am hoping I can settle in as quickly as possible with my style of play.

"I am pleased I have made this choice and I am standing by my choice of this club.

"It was a bit of a surprise (Monaco immediately loaning him out) and something I had not thought of but it was a proposition the club came up with to send me to get more experience and improve as a player.

"I want to be able to be performing at my absolute top level if I can and I am aware at the back of my mind the World Cup is looming."

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