Nikola Vlasic out to make mark for Everton in Italy
Winger aims to help Toffees bounce back having impressed against them in last round
Everton’s Nikola Vlasic attempts to get away from Tottenham’s Eric Dier during the visitors’ 3-0 win at Goodison Park on Saturday. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Atalanta v Everton Europa League, group E
Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia, 6pm, BT Sport 2
Nikola Vlasic last month tried to knock Everton out of the Europa League – now he hopes to shoot Ronald Koeman’s men to continental success.
The 19-year-old lined up in both legs of Hajduk Split’s playoff tie with the Toffees in August, with the Croatian side eventually bowing out 3-1 on aggregate.
Just a week after the second leg, Vlasic swapped his homeland for Everton in a deal that could eventually reach €10 million.
The winger impressed Koeman in the Europa League clash with Hajduk and could now play in the competition for the Blues as they kick-off the group stage in Italy at Atalanta.
“I’m really looking forward [to it],” Vlasic told evertontv.
“I’ve never played in the group stage of the Europa League before, so it’s exciting. It is something new and a good challenge.
“We need to forget about [Saturday’s loss to Tottenham] and look ahead, prepare ourselves and I hope we can get a good result.”
Saturday’s 3-0 home loss to Tottenham was certainly an afternoon to forget for Everton.
Deadline-day signing Vlasic came on to make his debut in the latter stages of the match and has already noticed the challenges posed by life in English football.
“All the guys have been very good to me, they are all helping me a lot,” Vlasic added. “I watched these players before on television and now I’m out on the pitch with them. They can help me a lot.
“I can only learn from them because they are very big players. It is very fast football here. The game moves faster and I need some time to adapt but I’m not afraid.”