Everton striker Nikola Vlasic claims that the club did not want him to wear the number 19 shirt at Goodison Park, as they were keeping it free for Diego Costa.

The striker was heavily linked with a move to the free-spending Toffees in the summer, with the club spending over £100 million on the likes of Wayne Rooney, Vlasic and Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Vlasic 7/2 to score v Leicester

They were keen to secure the services of Costa from Chelsea, but he eventually sealed a move to Atletico Madrid — though he will not be eligible to play for the club until January — and Vlasic chose the No.27 shirt.

Speaking to 24sata, Vlasic explained: “No.27 was free, I wanted 8 but Ross Barkley wears it, while the club was keeping 19 for Diego Costa.”

Ronald Koeman secured the signing of the Croatian striker for £10 million from Hajduk Split, and he has scored once in eight appearances this season.

The Dutch manager was sacked earlier this week, however, following a 5-2 loss to Arsenal, with former defender David Unsworth installed as a temporary caretaker.

Vlasic has expressed his regret at the firing of Koeman, but he is happy in his new surroundings as he continues to adapt to the Premier League.

“I’m sorry that Koeman got sacked, because he bought me and we had a really good relationship, but that’s football,” he added.

“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.

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“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.”

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