In the year 2003, at the tender age of nine, Gerard Deulofeu joined Barcelona’s famed youth academy.
The young Barca starlet found first team opportunities limited at the start of his career with The Catalans and was forced to move to Barcelona’s B team in the Segunda Division - which is one division below the La Liga - for the 2012/13 season.
And Deulofeu did not disappoint, notching 18 goals in just 25 appearances, becoming FC Barcelona B’s top scorer by a massive seven goal margin.
For Deulofeu, along with Rafinha and Liverpool’s Luis Alberto, they were dubbed the “Holy Trinity”.
However, this wasn’t enough for the Barca B side, who eventually finished in a dismal ninth place after a poor run of results towards the end of the season. However, Deulofeu played a key role for Barcelona’s B team, whose crucial goals they certainly couldn’t do without.
As the 2012/13 season concluded, Deulofeu was promptly rewarded with his brilliant performances with a promotion to Barcelona’s first team.
However, the excitement the Barca fans had of seeing the talented young Spanish starlet don their club colours were quelled almost immediately when Everton announced the loan signing of Deulofeu from Barcelona on a season long deal in the summer transfer window of 2013.
The step up from Spain’s second division to England’s competitive top flight is massively steep and many respected pundits have questioned his ability to shine in arguably the best league on this planet.
Fast forward to the 2013/14 Premier League season, and many will ask the same question. What exactly has Deulofeu brought to Everton? Since bringing Gerard to Goodison Park, Everton manager Roberto Martinez has been using him sparingly, with Deulofeu featuring in only nine of Everton’s opening 13 games, all but one of them coming in substitute appearances, the rare 10-15 minutes cameo opportunities.
And this has hurt Everton financially too. Everton pay the baulk of his wages, estimated at 1.5m euros, but they have to pay a higher percentage of that figure when the player does not play.
Barcelona are so keen to see Deulofeu getting more minutes on the pitch that they have inserted a clause in his loan deal to Everton seeing the Merseyside club pay more money every time he fails to feature.
On November 23 2013, Deulofeu was finally handed his first ever Barclays Premier League start for Everton, and it came in a home game against Stoke City.
Many avid football fans couldn’t wait to see him grace the grass of the Premier League and Deulofeu delivered when he was called upon. He scored a spectacular goal to open the scoring for the Toffees and rounded it off with a brilliant assist to teammate Bryan Oviedo.
It was a game that Everton truly dominated which ended in a comfortable 4-0 victory for the home side. Deulofeu had 4 shots on goal during the game, all of which were on target, completing 5/10 of his take-ons in his first 90 minutes on the pitch, with the whole Stoke team only managing eight take-ons combined, only three more than Deulofeu himself.
However, it wasn’t a completely faultless performance from the Spaniard, who only completed 1/12 crosses and had a dismal pass accuracy of just 83%, misplacing four passes.
Nevertheless, Deulofeu’s overall work rate was fantastic as he earned 87 points in Squawka’s performance score for his stunning display. Deulofeu has certainly repayed the faith Roberto Martinez bestowed on him and we can definitely expect more of these brilliant performances to come from him.
"He is one of the most talented footballers in Spanish football," said Martinez following Deulofeu’s stunning performance against Stoke.
"You can see why we worked so hard to attract him to the club."
"We always knew it would take a little bit of time for him to get used to the physicality of the British league. He showed in the last two performances he is getting ready, that he wants to help the team, and I was very pleased in the manner that he did that."
And in that respect, Martinez is most probably right. What Deulofeu brings to the Everton side is his drive, purpose and energy with Gerard posing as a constant threat to any of his opponents. Deulofeu was beset with a skilled set of feet, with dribbling being one of his fortes.
Deulofeu has admirable composure with the ball, with the ability to strike fear into his opposition whenever the ball falls to his delicate feet. He also has the confidence to make daring runs and is never afraid of taking on a defender, with his mind only focused on getting the ball past him.
Deulofeu provides the youthful spark that Everton desperately need with him linking up with players like Lukaku, and creating the chances for the strikers to convert. And although occasionally he makes that stray pass to lose possession, Deulofeu makes it up with his unbelievable work rate, doing all he can to help his team and win back possession.
Despite strong competition from established players for places with veterans like Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman, Deulofeu provides an extremely strong alternative to Martinez, especially with a hectic December schedule coming up for Everton.
In addition, Deulofeu can also be utilised as a super sub when necessary. He even managed to displace the reliable Kevin Mirallas, who started every game for Everton prior to this, to earn his first Everton start against Stoke.
And for sure, Deulofeu is not quite yet the finished article. This extremely talented young Spanish winger certainly has bags of potential and could possibly break into the Barcelona squad in the near future.
Deulofeu has only shown glimpses of his talent, which no one can doubt for sure, and there is definitely more to come from this exciting winger.
He may not be a well-known player yet, but with his tremendous talent, Deulofeu can perhaps become a world class player of the European game in the years to come.
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