Why Everton's new and improved attacking trio are kicking up such a fuss
Rewind two years and you’ll come to an Everton side that were making history. A home and away win against David Moyes’ Manchester United, thrashing Arsenal 3-0 while playing in their 60th consecutive top flight season. Roberto Martinez had been brought into replace David Moyes and the Spaniard bought along a few of his trusted men. Kone, Alcaraz and Joel Robles joined Everton in Martinez’s debut transfer window with most expecting the former Wigan men to cement themselves in a new look Everton team.
Martinez, however, made two loan signings that made the side a force. An unfortunate Romelu Lukaku found himself again on loan after stating he wanted to contest for a place at Chelsea. A countryman of Martinez in Deulofeu also joined on loan from Barcelona, with the Catalans viewing Martinez’s style as a perfect fit for Deulofeu’s development.
An Englishman with the mould of a young Wayne Rooney was also making a name for himself at The Toffees. Having scored his first goal for the club, the man heralded as a future ‘great’ by Martin Keown went on to have a stellar season. The youngster claimed a Man of the Match against Keown’s former club Arsenal while was shortlisted on the PFA Young Player of the year list. Having scored 6 goals that season including a stunner against Man City, the academy graduate was rewarded a new contract tying him down until 2018.
The season finished with Everton rewarded a 5th place finish for their free flowing attacking football with the trio of 2 loanees and a young English talent lighting up the Premier League. With Barkley’s driving runs, Lukaku’s deadly eye for goal and Deulofeu’s pace and trickery, Everton often outscored opponents instead of holding on for 1-0 wins. Many fans wondered what the future could hold for these three men, something many are wondering now. Could The Toffees attract the men on loan into a permanent deal or would all three be plying their trade elsewhere in the following season?
It panned out better than expected for Everton with Barkley staying despite due to his new contract, Lukaku signed for a club record fee of £28m while Deulofeu joined Sevilla on loan instead of Everton. One time world’s most paid footballer Samuel Eto’o also joined for free to combat the lack of star quality Deulofeu had previously brought. However, Everton’s success of the 2012/13 season came back to haunt them with the infamous European hangover taking the toll on results. Everton finished 11th desperately needing a tricky winger in the side after Mirallas and McGeady had done little to impress.
This season did bring the tricky winger. Gerard Deulofeu joined permanently in the summer although he came baring a buy back clause. The attacking trio had been reconnected with Everton fans drooling over the prospects of the three more developed footballers combining once again.
Instantly, Barkley hit a screamer on the opening day to remind fans of his class. Lukaku has continued to put the ball in the back of the net since the season’s beginning with both men cementing a first team place. The former Barcelona man Deulofeu struggled to make an impression since signing however. The Spaniard found himself on the bench for much of the start of the season with opportunities coming from 5 of the 13 games played so far. More recently Deulofeu has gained game time with his first 90 minutes coming against West Brom. The Spaniard has created 13 chances this season with 5 assists already, his chance creation is only bettered by the two other men featured in this article.
The trio’s combination hadn’t come to fruition until the 4-0 thrashing of Remi Garde’s Aston Villa side. A flicker of hope at Southampton conveyed the connection between Barkley and Lukaku but Deulofeu was nowhere to be seen. However, the game against Villa finally made them click. 2 goals from Barkley, 2 from Lukaku with both assisting each other while Deulofeu orchestrated things from a deeper, wider position. The Spaniard created 2 chances for his team.
The impressive, attacking performance reinstated speculation around the young talents. Deulofeu’s buy back clause always will cast a shadow over his career at Everton with fans perhaps hoping that he plays averagely to avoid activating the clause before the expiry date. Barkley, being a rare English gem, is constantly receiving speculation about his future, especially with the financial super power of Manchester City waiting in the wings. Lukaku’s future seems more likely to be at the club he’s grown to love in Everton yet links to PSG and Spain may fit the phrase ‘there’s no smoke without fire’ as he is young with potential while also being an established striker at club and international level
Martinez will hope the trio remain at Everton for years to come however the talent the men display will certainly lead them to bigger clubs. For now, the Everton fans can just enjoy the fluid football the three men combine to play so very well.
Featured Image – All Rights Reserved by Aleksandr Osipov.
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