Carlo Ancelotti motivated by desire to lead Everton into the Champions League

Carlo Ancelotti admits he misses the Champions League and the desire to return provides his greatest motivation at Everton.

The 61-year-old won the European Cup twice as a player with AC Milan and three times as a manager with Milan (twice) and Real Madrid.

Since he left Parma in 1998, Everton is the first club he has joined to not have played regularly in Europe’s elite club competition.

Asked whether he missed the Champions League the Italian said: “Personally? Yes.

“I think the Champions League is the best competition in the world and as I said when I arrived here, to bring Everton to games in the Champions League is a fantastic motivation for me.

“This is the target we have for the future. I don’t know how long it will take for this but I hope soon we will be able to play games in the Champions League.

“It would be fantastic to play with Everton in the Champions League, it is a great motivation and a great great desire.”

Everton would temporarily move into the top four with victory over Leicester on Wednesday.

They are boosted by the return of left-back Lucas Digne and Alex Iwobi, who were left out of Sunday’s FA Cup win over Championship strugglers Sheffield Wednesday.

“When you think about the game against Leicester and the game against Newcastle (on Saturday), it will help us understand where we want to be in the future,” Ancelotti added.

“These are really important games for us. We want to fight for the top four, we want to fight for the top six.

“The fact that we are going to play at home in these next two games means that after Saturday we know where we are going to be in the future. I hope it is a nice future.”

However, the biggest factor in Ancelotti achieving his and the club’s ambitions rests with the triumvirate of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and James Rodriguez.

The trio have started only eight out of 17 Premier League matches together this season due to injury and suspension.

They helped rack up four wins and a draw from the opening day of the season but have stuttered since, with November’s win at Fulham the only victory in the three occasions they lined up together.

“It will be important to have all of them. They work really well to combine together up front,” said the Everton manager.

“For most of these games Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin or James was not available but we adapted really well and now that they are back we expect a bit more up front.”

Rodriguez looked back to his early-season form in the win over Wednesday and Ancelotti hopes that will help his two main goalscorers.

“He was really good with the ball and that’s what we are going to ask of him, to be really good and efficient,” added the Italian, who said he was not looking to sign anyone in the remainder of the window and no player has asked him if they could leave.

“He made a lot of passes and was really good delivering set-pieces. The fact that he is back, Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin can take advantage.”