Cenk Tosun is aiming to cement his “special bond” with Evertonians by helping the Blues achieve Merseyside derby success this weekend.
Turkey international Tosun became boss Sam Allardyce’s first Everton signing when he joined from Besiktas in January and has hit four goals in his past four games to swiftly acquire fans’ favourite status at Goodison Park.
And the 26-year-old – who thrived on the energy and fervour of his former club’s notoriously fiery all-Istanbul clashes with Galatasaray – cannot wait to sample the white-hot Goodison derby atmosphere for the first time on Saturday lunchtime.
“I know the importance of this game and what it means to the supporters,” said Tosun. “It is on our home ground, in front of our supporters and we will do everything we can to try to get the three points.
“The goals I have scored made the bond between me and the supporters even better. God-willing, I will score this week and become a true Evertonian.
“I used to watch the Merseyside derbies on television and already knew the meaning of the match before I moved to the Club. And since I have been here, I understand it even better.
“Every time I come across an Everton supporter who wants a photo with me, the last thing they say is, ‘You have to score against Liverpool!’”
Tosun got off the mark for his new club against Burnley last month, before scoring in the victory over Brighton & Hove Albion and adding a decisive double to propel Everton to a 2-1 success at Stoke City.
He now has his sights fixed on Everton’s city rivals, with his appreciation of the importance of this contest heightened by his experiences back in Turkey.
Tosun’s already lofty popularity rating among Besiktas supporters soared even further when he struck late to earn a draw against arch-foes Galatasaray early in 2016/17.
He also scored for his former team in a comprehensive victory over the same opponents back in December.
“In Istanbul if there is a derby then life stops,” said Tosun. “Everybody wants to watch the game and concentrates on the game.
“At Besiktas we did really well in derbies. We won the last one I played 3-0. I scored one and, hopefully, God-willing, the same will happen on Saturday.
“The Besiktas fans break all the decibel records. When we were playing at home, for example, it was well known that the ground was quite loud. In the Champions League we were playing against Leipzig [in September last year] and one of their players, after the 30th minute, had to stop and be replaced because of the noise – he could not deal with it.
“Mario Balotelli said the same thing: he could not sleep on the night after we played Liverpool in Istanbul [when Besiktas knocked the Reds out of the Europa League in February 2015].
“I think from the first day I arrived at Everton I had a very special bond with the supporters. I love them and I think they love me.
“I signed a four-and-a-half year deal and would like to become one of the legend players. Centre-forwards are important to any team and at Everton it is very important for them to score goals and have a bond with supporters and I would like to build on that.”
Tosun is under no illusions about the scale of the task Everton will face in trying to overcome an in-form Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp’s side has been beaten only twice in its past 23 Premier League games and comfortably saw off Manchester City in a Champions League quarter-final tie in midweek.
The striker is nevertheless drawing plenty of encouragement from the way Everton competed in drawing 1-1 in the reverse fixture against the Reds in December – and again when he was a frustrated observer as the Toffees were unfortunate to go down to a late goal in an FA Cup third-round tie with Liverpool on the day of his arrival.
“I signed on the day when there was a derby, it was a Friday night and I really wanted to be there but the paperwork had not finished on time,” added Tosun.
“I remember the league game at their ground this season – it was a close match, 1-1.
“They are a good team – no question about that – but we are playing well at home and we will try our best to win this game for the Club and the supporters.”