Dwight McNeil says that the way Everton came together in the thick of their relegation battle last season signalled the start of an exciting journey.
The Toffees have signed the 22-year-old attacker from Burnley for on a contract until 2027, with BBC Sport claiming the deal is worth around £20million. He is manager Frank Lampard’s third summer signing following James Tarkowski and Ruben Vinagre.
McNeil, who has 10 caps at England Under-21 level, was also in the thick of the relegation scrap with Burnley.
The Clarets went down on the final day of the last Premier League season. Everton, meanwhile, secured their future in the penultimate game of the campaign.
And McNeil told his new club’s official website that results such as the 3-2 win over Crystal Palace at Goodison Park in May showed that Everton do have the basis to kick on.
“Last season was difficult for the club, but going into the last bit of the season, you saw from the players and fans the desire, mentality and togetherness they have,” the winger said.
“They came together and were united as one. That is massive for players and gives you that extra bit of confidence.
“This season we want to do better and I want to be part of the team to help them do that.
“I’ve played at Goodison a couple of times and you always knew it was always a difficult place to go because the fans are behind the lads from the start to the end. It is good and something I want to be part of.
“Now I am fortunate to be on the same side as the fans and am looking forward to getting going.”
Dwight McNeil explains best traits
McNeil can play on either wing but insisted he can also work hard in defence as Everton look to climb back up the table.
“I feel playing under a manager like Frank Lampard, he will help me to get my stats up – and that is what I want to do and improve my game,” the player said.
“I am a direct runner with the ball, I like to get on the ball, cut inside and create chances for the team, I want to help the team as best as I can, work hard and do the defensive side of the game, too.”
McNeil played in all 38 Premier League games for Burnley last season but only contributed one assist.
Lampard said he has been a “big admirer” of McNeil for a while, adding that his “huge talent” is “exactly” the kind the Toffees need.
Meanwhile, Everton director of football Kevin Thelwell labelled his club’s new addition “one of the best young talents in English football”.
Exciting signing for Everton
McNeil moved to Burnley in 2018 and despite playing 147 times, he only managed seven goals and 17 assists.
At Turf Moor, the onus was on the big man up top – the likes of Chris Wood and Wout Weghorst – to contribute goals.
However, former attacking midfielder Lampard wants goals and assists from his midfielders and wingers.
And that could allow McNeil to thrive, helping attack while also put dangerous crosses in.
Everton need stability this season and McNeil could well help provide that as he looks to take his career to the next level.