Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti has set his players the minimum target of qualifying for Europe this season after they finished a lowly 12th in the Premier League in his first season in charge.

The Italian, a three-time Champions League winner, enjoyed a bright start to his reign after his appointment in December but their form fell away and they finished in their lowest position since 2004.

That was a disappointment for Ancelotti, who harboured hopes of sneaking into the European places despite taking over a team in a relegation battle.

“I think that the goal we want to achieve is to fight for the first positions of the Premier League to be able to reach Europe next season,” he said.

“The goal is quite clear. We have this desire, this ambition. I think we can.”

Ancelotti has strengthened his midfield with the signings of Napoli’s Brazil international Allan, Watford’s Abdoulaye Doucoure and high-profile Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez.

He still needs more cover at centre-back as Yerry Mina has been hampered by niggling injuries, while there are question marks over whether he has enough firepower with Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Moise Kean.

But Ancelotti is satisfied with the club’s transfer activity so far, with all three new signings set to be given their debuts at Tottenham on Sunday.

“I think that we are happy to have these players,” he said. “The club did a fantastic job because these players — James, Doucoure and Allan — were the priority for us.

“We were able to sign them and so we’re really happy, I think the club did a fantastic job.

“Now we are working to have a good season. We would like to be competitive in all the competitions and I think with these players the squad has improved and I think we are going to compete.

“The market is going to be closed on October 5. If there is some opportunity I think we can look for this (more signings), but honestly I am satisfied with the squad in this moment.”

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