As a die-hard Everton fan it hurts me to write this article, but Everton fans will have to enjoy the mercurial talents of Gerard Deulofeu while they can, because he is unlikely to be plying his trade on Merseyside for long.
Toffees boss Roberto Martinez is already fearing the worst about Barcelona’s buy-back fee coming back to haunt the Merseysider’s, more on that later.
Enthralling and frustrating
I am not sure I have ever experienced watching an Everton player who can bring an equal amount of excitement and frustration. Deulofeu has the talent to win games on his own.
The Spaniard has sublime technical ability, vision and awareness on the pitch that very few in the world game possess. Deulofeu’s return of six assists in ten Premier League appearances this season shows his ability to create for teammates.
Since his first top-flight start of the season against West Brom, Deulofeu has been highly influential in a number of his appearances for the Toffees. His understanding with Everton’s club-record signing Romelu Lukaku has been particularly fruitful.
The winger and the striker seem to be on the same page, both with immense potential and big ambitions. On form both are unstoppable to opposition teams. Deulofeu’s through-ball for Lukaku to equaliser against West Ham in the 1-1 draw against last time out was a thing of beauty.
The wingers form and influence on the Everton team is growing by the game. With every influential display Deulofeu moves one step closer to the Goodison Park exit door.
Everton have repelled the advances of Chelsea for highly-rated young centre-back John Stones, but Deulofeu’s situation is far more complicated than that of the England internationals.
Although Deulofeu has started to fulfil his potential on Merseyside there is still a big frustration amongst Everton fans when it comes to the youngster hitting the ground far too easily.
The Toffees fans are usually pretty honest and if you talk to most about Deulofeu they will speak glowingly about his ability, but also about his simulation and his theatrics. If he is going to stay in the Premier League he needs to learn to stay on his feet.
Barcelona’s buy-back clause in Deulofeu’s contract has been a giant elephant in the room since the youngster started to hit form.
The European champions could trigger that buy-back at any time in the next three years and take him away from Merseyside for not much more than the Toffees paid, but that was the price that Everton had to pay to sign such a promising player. At least if Barcelona come calling for the youngster it means he has been a huge success.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez has had a lot to say about the clause and told the media: “There is nothing we can do if they activate the clause. That was the deal and the only way we could access the player in the terms that we wanted. I’m delighted with the deal.
“There are certain things in the deal. It is 9m euros for the first year and 12m euros in the second year.
“They can’t take him back in the winter so they can’t take him back in January. My worry would be to lose him in January. That would be a big problem.
“But for us to have a player of that quality for the money we paid, if we lose him it will be on a profit financially so we would be able to use the money. You’re talking about a Barcelona player who has been all through his years as the golden boy believing he is going to be at the top level at Barcelona and we got him for a very good price.
“You want the player. I would like to tell Barcelona that he’s rubbish but they come to watch our games.”
It sounds like the Spaniard is already preparing to lose his most skilful player in the near future and there is very little Everton can do about it.
A likely Barcelona return
Deulofeu will no doubt want to return to the top level with the likes of Barcelona one day, as honestly Everton cannot compete with the Catalan giants in terms of money or glory on offer, few if any English teams can.
The 21-year-old has been in good form of late and will be looking to continue that good form as the Toffees welcome struggling Aston Villa to Goodison Park on Saturday, a game the Merseysider’s are odds of 4/7 to win.
Evertonian’s are realists, we have had to be as supporters because we have seen the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea become mega-rich, while we have remained locally own by the well-meaning, if not mega-rich Bill Kenwright.
We realise that we need to enjoy the performances of Deulofeu while we can, as if he continues his upward trajectory in development then Barcelona may come calling in the near future and there is nothing we can do about it.
Will Gerard Deulofeu return to Barcelona in the near future?