Everton boss Roberto Martinez: Gerard Deulofeu can be as good as he wants to be

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Roberto Martinez has told Gerard Deulofeu he can be as good as he wants to be after seeing him steer Everton into the Capital One Cup semi-finals.

The Toffees boss looked on as the Spain international fired the Premier League side into a 20th-minute lead at Middlesbrough with a superb solo effort, and then set up Romelu Lukaku to seal a 2-0 victory eight minutes later with another delicious piece of skill.

Asked how good the 21-year-old can be, Martinez replied: "As good as he wants - that's a big part.

"As you know, football is not an individual game, football is a team game and as a player, you are never too old or too young to learn and you need to get things that help you to become effective for the team.

"Gerard is a young man in terms of the amount of games that he's played at this level, so he needs a lot of games. But as a natural talent, he's as good as it gets.

"He's got that talent that you dream to have, he's got the talent that anyone would pay for a ticket to watch him."

Deulofeu lit up the Riverside Stadium with his individual contribution, but Martinez, who had him on loan from Barcelona two seasons ago and sees him every day in training, was not unduly surprised.

He said: "Unfortunately - or fortunately - I don't get impressed because I see that every day. What I am impressed with is his maturity.

"Two years ago when we had him we knew he was a young man with an incredible natural talent. Now he's not a young man anymore. He's young in age, but very mature.

"He's got a big role for us and he has been very consistent, which is very difficult for a wide player with that goalscoring threat, with that natural ability.

"It's very difficult to find that consistency, and that's probably the aspect that impressed me the most in Gerard Deulofeu's performance."

Sadly for Sky Bet Championship Boro, Deulofeu's match-winning display did not come as a bolt from the blue to them either with head coach Aitor Karanka having worked with him during his time in the Spanish youth set-up.

Karanka said: "Gerard, I have known him since he was 13-14 years old, and he plays in the same way that he played when he was 13-14. He plays with his spirit, with his character and he's really good.

"When it's his day, it's difficult to stop him. We knew and even knowing before the game and showing the players images of him, he can surprise you.

"For that reason, he is at Everton playing in one of the top Premier League teams."

Having eased their way in front, Everton expertly managed the remainder of the game to see out a comfortable victory despite Boro fighting all the way to the whistle.

Karanka said: "That's the explanation: they were better than us because they are an amazing team with an amazing manager.

"We knew that before the game and after the game, I can just say 'congratulations' and how pleased and how proud I am of my players because they played really well.

"Everton had to play 100 per cent to beat us and we had a few chances to score a goal, so for that reason, I am really pleased with the performance of my players."

Premier League

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