The Toffees have been in the running for a top-six spot for much of the campaign, but they lost back-to-back matches against Chelsea and Burnley prior to the international break.
Those defeats, plus Liverpool’s return to form, mean Everton are down to eighth ahead of their Monday night clash with Crystal Palace, though they could rise as high as fourth if they win both their games in hand over the teams above them.
Ancelotti says the short-term focus will be completely on trying to achieve that objective of returning to Continental competition, but the summer approach won’t alter regardless of whether or not they make it.
“We have to work hard to sacrifice to do everything to be in Europe,” he told reporters in his pre-match press conference.
“I think it could be a good step forward, it could be a stamp on our season which until now is good but it could be fantastic if we are able to reach the place to play in Europe next season.
“The squad we are working on in the transfer market, we are going to work to improve the squad. This is for sure. If we are to play in Europe we are going to improve the squad, if we are not in Europe then we are going to improve the squad the same. It doesn’t change our idea.”
Ancelotti hinted at limited spending being on the agenda, having spent over £60 million in the summer to bring in Allan, Ben Godfrey, Abdoulaye Doucoure and James Rodriguez.
But it’s quality of players which concerns the Italian boss, rather than a big price tag.
“I think with the last transfer window, we didn’t spend a lot of money and with three or four signings, the squad improved a lot.
“To improve the squad we don’t need to invest a big amount of money, you just have to find the right players.”
Everton last played in the Europa League in 2017/18, when they were knocked out at the group stage, while they have never played in the groups of the Champions League, losing a qualifier in 2005/06. They last featured in the European Cup in 1970/71.
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