Gerard Deulofeu, the 19-year-old winger, is the brightest gem in Barcelona’s La Masia youth system.
Deulofeu is an international regular for Spain’s Under-21 side and has already struck three times in just seven appearances.
Deulofeu joined FC Barcelona’s youth academy in 2003, at just nine years old. He made his debut for Barcelona B team in March 2011, in their 4-1 win against Cordoba CF in the second division.
Pep Guardiola called him up in April 2011 for a La Liga match, but he did not feature in their 2-1 defeat to Real Sociedad. He made his first-team debut in a 4-1 friendly loss against C.D Guadalajara, and he went on to assist Seydou Keita in the 90th minute against Club America just three days later.
The winner of the 2012 UEFA Under-19 Championship Gold Player award replaced Cesc Fabregas in the 63rd minute of Barcelona’s home demolition of Real Mallorca for only his second La Liga appearance in his career. Deulofeu looked menacing out on the wing and although he failed to register any goals or assists the potential was there for all to see.
Barcelona have been cautious with how they use Deulofeu, despite his talents. They are trying to avoid another Bojan situation. The ex-Barcelona forward was speculator in his first season but struggled to deal with the limelight and was sold as result.
Deulofeu has been compared to Lionel Messi and, with 18 goals in 27 games in the B team, you can understand why. The skillful forward is capable of playing on both wings and as a “false" No. 9.
Various clubs, including Premier League champions Manchester City, have been linked with the Spanish player, highlighting the abilities of the 19-year-old. And with rumours of Barcelona chasing Neymar, Deulofeu could decide that his future lies somewhere else.
Barcelona must keep him.
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