After failing to convince Luis Enrique, followed by a muted loan spell at Sevilla, Gerard Deulofeu returns to Goodison Park to revive his career at the ground where he played his best football till date.
Gerard Deulofeu has become a symptomatic example of the talented Barcelona youngster of the new age. With promise beyond potential, and rapidly developing ability, Deulofeu was prized to make an impact at Barcelona, like many of his illustrious teammates. With abilities fast progressing, Barca took a leap of faith and loaned him to Everton, giving him the consistent big-match exposure he was lacking.
Their expectations were aptly met, as Deulofeu became a roaring success for the Toffees, firing them to the Europa League in devastating fashion. With Barca’s transfer ban, Enrique’s appointment, and a shortage of great wide players, one would naturally assume that Deulofeu would slip right in.
Enrique’s lack of faith in the winger, was proved, when his loan spell at Sevilla proved grossly underwhelming, leaving the once promising La Masia graduate without a club. Despite being touted as one of Barcelonaa s next generation of stars, he has failed to establish himself in first-team football either with the Catalan club or elsewhere and that is reflected in the price, of A?4.2 Million, a steal of a sum considering the potential he actually harbours.
Despite returning to Everton, Deulofeu might not quite hit the ground running again. With an abject loan spell at Sevilla, Martinez might be forced to reconsider exactly how to use him, and fan’s will have to take into account the realities surrounding his transfer.
1. Martinez is looking to the past, for the future
It’s not a big surprise, that Everton seemed a ghost of the team that finished in fifth place in 2013-14. Their brand of cavalier, attacking football depended as much on it’s novelty as it did it’s players’ fitness. The likes of McCarthy, Lukaku and Mirallas faded into obscurity, with McGeady and Naismith failing to find consistency.
A big part of Martinez’ blitzkrieg attack, was his philosophy of trying to bring Spanish possession and attack to the Premier League. He used to get Swansea up the lower divisions, he used it to keep Wigan in the Premier League (albeit for a season) and he used it to bring a real air of expectancy to Everton after years of static performance under David Moyes.
With the return of his Spanish compatriot, Martinez hopes that he can channel his style of play to a more effective level, with Deulofeu’s position adding quality depth to Everton’s attacking options.
In an interview with EvertonFC.com, Martinez spoke positively about the Winger arrival, citing that;
a Gerard needs no introduction to anyone here at Everton, for we are all well aware of his incredible footballing talent, We got to know him really well from his loan period, not only as such a talented player but also his great character. He will be a fantastic asset to our club.a
Moreover, the winger will add a sense of urgency and decisiveness that has come completely undone this past season at Everton.
2. La Masia doesn’t feature in Luis Enrique’s plans for the long term
While Barca still boast three-four home grown players, nearly every game, Enrique has relied on past talents instead of cultivating a new crop. While it might be unfair to judge him for this, only a year after his appointment, Enrique is looking for tried and tested, more than born and bred.
Barca’s efforts to sign experienced centre backs like Mathieu, Midfielders like Rakitic, and attackers like Suarez, paid the ultimate dividend as Enrique’s Barca claimed the club’s second treble in six years. On the other hand, players like Dos Santos and Thiago have made a name for themselves elsewhere, while potential powerhouses like Bartra and Montoya aim to follow the suit of their young La Masia . compatriots.
Despite making it this far, Enrique will have to examine his options quickly, as his current Barca side boast the highest average age the team has had in the last eight years.
However, for that reason Barcelona have protected themselves against losing one of their brightest young talents by insisting on a release clause within the first two years if they meet certain conditions and having the right of first refusal if Everton decide to sell the player.
3. Everton’s transfer acumen is getting sharper, at just the right time
After signing Romelu Lukaku for a record-breaking A?35 Million, Everton felt they had signed a powerhouse forward for the foreseeable future.
Though performances like that against Young Boys Bern would’ve fed that narrative, Lukaku’s campaign on a whole was an underwhelming one. His service was inconsistent, and his performances in front of goal, profligate.
With Deulofeu’s purchase for a paltry A?4.2 Million, Everton have made an astute signing, knowing full well that they’re likely to hold on to him for more than a single campaign this time around.
Martinez’ capture of Tom Cleverley for free from Manchester United, will finally see the midfielder play his desired role and prospectively re-create the magic he produced under Martinez at Wigan.
With two young, promising attackers for less than A?5 Million, Everton will have more funds to attract more star power, that they will need if they are to worry the super-powers of the Premier League.
4. This campaign will be make-or-break for Martinez’ career in the Premier League
Though it’s presumptuous to assume such an eventuality, Martinez will have to strike just the right balance, to ensure Everton do not slip into mediocrity as they did last season.
With injuries, defensive slip-ups, and loss in form, many of the Everton faithful began yearning for the consistency that had kept them well afloat under David Moyes.
Having played their most attractive football under Martinez in his first season, Everton will aim for consistent performances, to build a sustainable base for the future. With John Stones seemingly committed to the club, and Tom Cleverley adding pace to their midfield, Martinez can now launch a firmer offensive on the premier league. With their depth increasing in quality, the Merseyside blues can begin to look at the new campaign with a sense of muted optimism rather than an acceptance of a mid table finish.
5. Deulofeu is unlikely to get a better chance
The winger’s loan spell at Sevilla was an underwhelming one. Managing only one goal in a paltry 17 appearances with a 50% Shot accuracy, Deulofeu’s involvement was only sparing, as he found first team football increasingly difficult to come by.
Added to this, were reported problems of attitude, specifically towards training and his role in the team, that rubbed Unai Emery the wrong way, relegating the player firmly to the bench.
With Roberto Martinez, Deulofeu not only has a manager who plays a style that compliments his own ability, but also one that intends to utilise his to the fullest extent.
At 21, the winger can establish himself as a first team regular, and cultivate his ability in a system and environment that plays to his strengths.
With Spanish attackers having enjoyed a period of sustained success in the Premier League of late, Deulofeu can look positively towards his future. However, he will have to maintain both form and discipline that come with plying one’s trade in the Premier League, as Deulofeu will be coming back to both a different Everton and Premier League, than the one he left a year ago.