How is this wing wizard fulfilling his potential at Everton?
Gérard Deulofeu spent the 2013/14 season on loan with Everton and showed enough flair and promise during this campaign to convince everyone just why he was rated so highly. The La Masia-trained star would have hoped his performances were good enough to convince boss Luis Enrique to keep him at Barcelona and integrate him into the first-team squad in Catalonia, playing amongst greats of the game such as Messi and Iniesta. When that failed to materialise, many expected the youngster to return to Merseyside. Instead, he joined Sevilla and there, the Spaniard failed to establish his place under Unai Emery as he made only 10 starts in the season. To the delight of the Toffees fans, Deulofeu signed permanently for the Goodison Park outfit in the summer.
Only Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil has created more goals than the Everton winger who has six assists to his name in the league, alongside David Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Kevin de Bruyne. In terms of statistics, many would argue he has been “robbed of” a couple of assists as well, notably in the last match against Crystal Palace where his piercing low cross was converted by Lukaku, but Barry seemed to have got a touch in the box before the Belgian latched on to it. Of course Deulofeu; being the grounded individual that he appears to be, would almost certainly be the first to say that these statistics are just numbers which don’t matter as long as he is doing his job on the pitch, and there is no doubt that he is.
Deulofeu has become a fan favourite once again at Goodison Park because of his knack of enchanting audiences with beautiful attacking moves. His exquisite wing-play; along with Ross Barkley’s new-found consistency and Romelu Lukaku’s exceptional proficiency in front of goal, has been an important reason why Everton have enjoyed a lengthy unbeaten streak spanning all competitions.
The skilful winger is extremely difficult for full-backs to shut out as his trickery on the flanks can leave defenders embarrassed. Deulofeu averages 3.1 successful dribbles every 90 minutes and it therefore comes as no surprise that defenders are often unable to nullify his threat. The youngster’s through-balls are beautiful to watch as he ensures they’re weighted correctly and that they pierce the opponent’s defence before reaching his team-mate who can benefit from them. Averaging 2.3 key passes every 90 minutes, Deulofeu’s vision in the final third is definitely helping Lukaku who can evidently be seen to profit from it. The Spaniard remains almost irrepressible on occasions and on days where he doesn’t have assists or goals, he importantly remains at the heart of his team’s clinical display.
However, this should come as no big surprise to people who have tracked the former Barcelona player. In fact, in his first season with Everton as well, Deulofeu showed his talent with the ball and just how much potential he possessed. What has changed from then is that the Spaniard is also showing a better and broader understanding of the game. He is applying himself much better this term and there is a sense of maturity about him when he gets the ball. Deulofeu doesn’t try to be excessively flashy and does what would get the best return for the team; a trait which Roberto Martinez clearly relishes, reflected by an extended run in the first-team.
What is most exciting with Deulofeu is that he is just 21 years of age and can improve massively in the coming years. Barcelona do have a buy-back clause for him, but it is very difficult to envision the Spaniard going back to the Catalan club any time soon. Of course, it is difficult to predict the future and if the behemoths from Spain do want him, it will be very hard for the 21 year old to say no. After two years of frustration, these most recent seasons could be the stepping stone to becoming part of the illustrious Barcelona squad. Deulofeu finds himself in the perfect place right now; under a good manager, feeding the attack to a striker who is in brilliant form and can convert the chances being created for him and being cheered by fans who adore him. As is the advice for many of those starting to make huge strides in the game in their formative years, Deulofeu should stick with Everton and further his development on Merseyside before considering pastures new….or even revisiting already trodden paths for that matter.
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