LONDON, England (Reuters) - Everton, once known as England’s Bank of England club, are returning to their high-spending ways by becoming Europe’s heaviest spenders in the transfer window.
The Toffees are expected to pay 24 million pounds ($31 million) for Burnley centre half Michael Keane on Monday to take their overall investment to 80 million pounds this transfer window as they attempt to build a side capable of breaking into the Premier League’s top four next season.
Other arrivals include Ajax midfielder Davy Klaassen (23 million pounds), Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford (25 million pounds) and Henry Onyekuru (6.8 million pounds, the Eupen striker who was immediately loaned out to another Belgian side Anderlecht.
Everton are also in negotiations to sign Malaga’s Spain under-21 striker Sandro Ramirez for a fee of 5.2 million pounds and have been linked with a possible move for former player Wayne Rooney.
Their spending has outstripped city rivals Liverpool, who have so far paid 37 million pounds for Mo Salah, and every other club across the continent, although the picture may change as bigger clubs tie down summer deals.
Everton were given the moneybags sobriquet, originally coined for Sunderland in the 1950s, when they were backed by funds from the Littlewoods Catalogue Empire in the 1960s, investment that led to them winning the title in 1970.
Everton’s latest splurge in the transfer market comes on the back of a 19 million pounds net spend in January.
The cash outlay reflects both their improved finances since the arrival of co-owner Farhad Moshiri, the Iranian billionaire who bought a 49.9 percent stake last year, and the possible departure of striker Romelu Lukaku, who is expected to join either Chelsea or Manchester United for a fee of up to 100 million pounds.
Broadcaster Skysports reported that Keane, 24, underwent a medical at Everton’s Finch Farm training centre on Monday following three successful seasons at Burnley, who he joined from boyhood club Manchester United.
The centre half had been linked with a possible return to Old Trafford before United signed Victor Lindelof from Benfica.
Strong in the tackle with a good positional sense, Keane won two caps for England last season when he was shortlisted for the Professional Football Association Young Player of the Year award.
In May, Everton manager Ronald Koeman said the club intended to invest over the summer with the intention of reaching the Champions League for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
“We have a very powerful and exciting project, and we’re going to strengthen as best as possible to try and reach the Champions League next season,” Koeman said.
($1 = 0.7712 pounds)
Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Hugh Lawson