Everton manager Roberto Martinez is ready to unleash his secret weapon Gerard Deulofeu on the Premier League.
The Spanish winger arrived at Everton in the summer on loan from Barcelona and has made just six substitute appearances in the Premier League, along with two Capital One Cup starts -scoring in the tie against Stevenage.
But Martinez thinks that the 19-year-old has adapted quickly to English football and is preparing to use him more regularly.
"Gerard has surprised me in truth. He’s an outstanding attacking footballer and I always felt that coming from Spain and a club like Barcelona the period to adapt to England was longer.
“But he’s changed massively. He’s a bright boy. I felt it would take at least until January or February but actually he’s ready now.”
Martinez explained the difference between football in England and Spain, particularly for a player coming from a club like Barcelona where the culture is so different.
“He’s come along quicker than I expected and has gone to a different level already, he listens a lot and pushes himself.
“Remember he has never been asked to track back or do those roles. That’s why it’s so different playing for Barcelona and going into the normal world.
“You want a winger to be fresh on the ball but in the modern game you have to be a defender when you don’t have the ball and an attacker when your side is in possession."
Deulofeu is regarded as one of the best young talents in Europe and Martinez is clearly impressed with his ability and willingness to learn new things.
“Gerard is a perfect example of someone who relies on raw talent and can break any defensive set-up through pure quality and that’s an incredible strength I don’t want to take from him. It’ll be the main focus of his career.
“It’s what makes him special and what you want to see on a football pitch. So often players become too rigid and you see their flair fade. Gerard is based on that flair. He plays like a young man in the park, enjoying the sport. It’s his essence.
“But he has taken on the lesson that you need to work off the ball and he’s adapted to the physicality.”
Everton are currently seventh in the league after a strong start under their new manager and Martinez is keen to get Deulofeu involved in the starting 11, but admits competition for places is tough.
"Every player in the squad wants to be in the first team and he’s no different. He wants more minutes and is desperate. We’ve got strong competition for places and Gerard has got a good platform now to compete with the others.”
Everton take on the Premier League's bottom side Crystal Palace on Saturday and the Spanish youngster will be hoping for some more game time and his unknown ability could be a real problem to defenders in England.
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