Gerard Deulofeu has become one of the biggest football enigmas of recent years.
On Friday, Barcelona activated a £10.4million clause in the winger’s Everton contract to bring him back to the Nou Camp.
What the future holds for the 23-year-old is unknown. However, it seems hard to imagine that the winger is going to feature much for the Blaugrana next season.
Skilful but infuriating
Deulofeu is the sort of player that can delight and frustrate in equal measures. The winger is the kind of player that can get you off your seat, only to annoy with the next movement.
At 23-years-old, he should be further along in his development. However, the inconsistencies in his game held him back from playing regular first team football at Everton in the first half of last season. The winger was slightly more successful at AC Milan after making a loan move in January.
However, it is widely accepted that you just do not know what you are going to get with Deulofeu. He has supreme technical ability, but his fitness is poor and he has a tendency to drift out of games.
Some have questioned his attitude. Surely now he is back at Barcelona he will attempt to change and fulfil his ability at his boyhood club.
Unlikely to feature much in Catalonia
Deulofeu faces a major task to get into the Barcelona first team next season. If he thought it was difficult to get into the Everton team, then getting into the Barcelona starting eleven will be nay on impossible.
Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar form a formidable trio in attack. Meanwhile Paco Alcacer is already at the club as a backup for the South American stars. Deulofeu is unlikely to be consistent enough to oust any of the current Barcelona front three.
One major factor in Barcelona taking Deulofeu back is that they could make a profit selling the La Masia graduate in the future. However, in the terms of the buy-back, Everton would receive a significant amount of the fee if the winger is sold in the next 12 months.
The more likely scenario is that Barcelona either uses Deulofeu as a backup player for a season for the likes of Suarez, Messi and Neymar. The other scenario is Deulofeu shipped out on loan again for the season until the clause in the buy-back expires. He will then likely be sold.
Either way, Barcelona are likely to profit from Deulofeu. If Deulofeu is loaned and he excels then his value will only go up. If he fails then Barcelona have not lost much and he continues to be decent attacking backup until his contract expires in 2019.
Barcelona favourites for La Liga title
Barcelona are currently odds of 10/11 to win La Liga next season. The bookmakers really cannot split Ernesto Valverde’s team and Real Madrid in the betting for the Spanish league crown.
The Catalan club needed to overhaul their squad this summer. However, Gerard Deulofeu is not an improvement over what they already have. The cynic in me is screaming that Barcelona have only bought the winger for financial reasons.
The move is unlikely to be in the best interests of a player who at one stage was the next big player off the La Masia conveyor belt. However, in many ways, Deulofeu has made his own bed by his struggles to find consistency.
The winger may well be back at the club where it all began. Deulofeu would have wanted to come back to Barcelona as a player with a chance of making the starting eleven, having shined at Everton and gained valuable experience.
Instead, he returns to the Catalan giants as just another financial asset, which is sad for such a technically gifted, yet flawed player.
Does Gerard Deulofeu have a future at Barcelona?
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