Nikola Vlasic has revealed that Everton denied him the No 19 shirt as they reserved the number for former Chelsea striker Diego Costa.
The 20-year-old – who joined the Toffees in the summer from Hadjuk Split – has claimed that the club were holding out hope of bringing the Spanish striker to Goodison Park.
Ronald Koeman was desperate to replace Romelu Lukaku who was sold to Manchester United for £75million, and targeted Costa in an audacious loan move until January.
The 29-year-old ended up agreeing a deal to re-join former club Atletico Madrid, but he cannot play until the New Year when the La Liga side’s transfer ban is lifted.
Vlasic – who was brought in alongside the likes of Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jordan Pickford – was speaking to 24sata when he made the revelation.
He said: “No 27 was free, I wanted 8 but Ross Barkley wears it, while the club was keeping 19 for Diego Costa.”
The youngster was brought to Merseyside for a fee believed to be in the region of £10million, after impressing for Hadjuk against Everton in a Europa League qualifier.
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And he has spoken of his sadness of Koeman’s dismissal after the 5-2 defeat against Arsenal on Sunday afternoon, while insisting he is ‘satisfied’ in the Premier League.
Vlasic added: “I’m sorry that Koeman got sacked, because he bought me and we had a really good relationship, but that’s football.
“Everton is a great club for young players like Jordan Pickford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Ademola Lookman, Tom Davies, me. We all get chances; I’m satisfied.
“In the Premier League, it’s easiest when you have the ball at your feet. And the hardest thing to do is to play against a team that breaks you down with their rhythm, like Arsenal.
“I haven’t had a chance to play against all of the strongest teams, only Arsenal, and I was impressed by Alexis Sanchez.
“Ozil is great, but Sanchez is impossibly fast, strong, always creating, turning and moving.”
Everton have endured a disastrous start to the season – losing five of their opening nine top-flight matches – conceding 18 goals.
They sit 18th in the table, and face Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.