Barcelona winger Gerard Deulofeu currently finds himself in football limbo. The 20-year-old wants to fight for his place in the Barca first team, but the need for instant results at the Camp Nou means it’s unlikely he’ll have the opportunity to nail down a starting spot with the Catalan giants next season.
The Spain Under-21 international has enjoyed a hugely impressive debut campaign at Everton - where he scored three goals in 25 Premier League appearances, most of which came as a substitute - and has been linked with a return to Goodison Park. But there could be another option for the wonderfully-talented forward: a move to Manchester United.
The Red Devils have the funds available to force Barcelona to sell, particularly with the La Liga club set to fork out an astronomical amount of money to make Lionel Messi the world’s highest-paid player again. Brazil international Neymar is going nowhere, while one of Pedro or Alexis Sanchez could leave the Camp Nou this summer - but one of them will certainly stay put to occupy the right flank.
Barcelona, unlike clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City, do not have an endless supply of cash - and should Manchester United make an offer of around, for example, £25m there’s a real chance Deulofeu will be granted permission to hold talks with the 20-time English champions.
At Everton he was playing under a coach, Roberto Martinez, with a Barcelona mindset. This allowed us to see the young Deulofeu at his brilliant best. He suffered a few dips in form and quiet periods, sure, but we’re talking about a player who only turned 20 years old this week.
He would find exactly the same coach at Manchester United. Louis van Gaal was credited by Victor Valdes earlier this week as laying the building blocks for this historic Barcelona side. The Dutch coach, who will be confirmed as the Red Devils’ manager next week, is the two-time former Barcelona manager who was responsible for handing debuts to club legends Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta.
Van Gaal believes in youth. This is one of the reasons why Manchester United have hired him to replace David Moyes - and this should be one of the reasons why Deulofeu is tempted to join Manchester United if the opportunity arises.
While Deulofeu will have his heart set on cementing a first-team place at the Camp Nou, he should consider the possibility of following a similar path to the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique - moving to the Premier League in order to play on a more regular basis. He does not want to follow the path of Bojan Krkic or Giovani dos Santos - two exceptionally gifted youngsters who have failed to live up to the extraordinary hype partly because they did not play enough at any early age.
Deulofeu could replace Antonio Valencia as Manchester United’s right-sided winger on either a 4-3-3 - the formation Van Gaal favours - or a 4-2-3-1 system. He is blessed with the talent to become a hero at Old Trafford, while his versatility to play on the left flank will also make him an attractive proposition for the incoming Van Gaal.
The Dutch coach will understandably focus on strengthening key positions in defence and midfield this summer, but if he has a little extra to spend on a brilliant young winger, then he should look no further than the Barcelona prodigy.