Everton are in limbo and this summer will decide which direction they’re heading

While some clubs prepare for a title challenge next season, others prepare for a battle to avoid relegation. And then there’s Everton.

The Toffees are in an interesting state of Premier League limbo — good enough not to worry about relegation but not good enough to mount a serious challenge for a top six finish.

Ronald Koeman’s side finished 15 points ahead of 8th placed Southampton this season but eight points behind Manchester United. Ronald Koeman is definitely focused on trying to propel Everton into the Premier League’s elite, but the club’s current limbo status makes it a difficult sell.

Everton have never been a big-money club but rather buys good players from either middle of the park domestic teams or players lacking for game time at the top. Ashley Williams, Yannick Bolasie and Morgan Schneiderlin are proven Premier League players that most other top-flight clubs would love to have, while Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley and Leighton Baines are some of the players who have developed into stars at Goodison Park over the years.

In that way, Everton represents a model the majority of English clubs should aim to follow. But the Toffees don’t want to be like most teams, they want to be better. In today’s Premier League, you have to buy great players if you want to be truly competitive at the top.

No world-class player is going to choose Everton over any of the league’s top six, as those clubs have had a monopoly on Champions League football for some time, Leicester of course being the exception of all exceptions.

Everton are currently a stepping stone club who want to be so much more but face too many issues out of their control. There are only so many Champions League spots to go around and only so much money in the Toffees’ pockets. The league’s top six clubs are far better than they were when Everton finished fifth four seasons ago.

With Lukaku’s expected departure and Barkley possibly to follow, Everton has a major decision to make. Reinvest the Lukaku money in several good players and increase depth, or go for a big-name player from England or elsewhere.

A tough decision either way, but one that Koeman must get right in order to push Everton on to the next level.