Everton latest: Loanee lined up for permanent deal, Distin praised

Arouna Kone

All the latest news, views and transfer rumours from Goodison Park...

Everton enjoyed a superb season under Roberto Martinez, but the same can't be said for striker Arouna Kone. The former Wigan Athletic striker followed Martinez from the DW Stadium to Goodison Park last summer but was ruled out for the majority of the season through injury. Now poised for a comeback, the Ivorian is hoping to prove his worth to the Toffees faithful.

"The most important thing is for me to be in the best possible shape I can be for the start of next season," said Kone. "I look back with a bit of pain [on the season]. I have not played as many games as I would have liked due to this injury. That is why I am not going on holiday, I am staying in Europe to work hard over the summer period, so I can hit the ground running when pre-season starts in July," he added.

Meanwhile, central defender Sylvain Distin is approaching his 37th birthday, but the Frenchman has been given praise from an unlikely source - Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham. The lifelong Everton fan lauded the former Manchester City man, not only for his performances on the pitch but for who he is off it.

"The man goes up and up in my estimation," said Burnham. "Not just as a player but as a man too. His fitness and his strength doesn’t seem to diminish even though he’s into his late thirties now. I thought the season just gone was his best by some way, he seemed to iron out the little errors that he was sometimes prone to."

"Very dependable, really dominant in some games and I had him in my shortlist for player of the season this year.  He seems to have a real engaging element about his personality. The man’s got integrity which isn’t always around in modern football but he’s got that about which I really like," he continued.

Manager Martinez will now be planning his transfers for this summer as he looks to progress the club even further, and one of his priorities appears to be landing midfielder Gareth Barry permanently. The former Manchester City man spent the season on loan at Everton, and Martinez is determined to sign the ex-England international on a full-time deal.

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