Gerard Deulofeu, one of the brightest talents of Barcelona’s famous youth academy, recently signed a 1-year loan deal with Everton. Many expected Deulofeu to be loaned out to a Spanish club, but the experience of playing a year in the Premier League might only do the youngster good.
Reports from Barcelona suggest that Everton became a very strong candidate when coach Roberto Martinez, originally Catalan, signed for the club. Barcelona knew that Deulofeu could learn a lot from the coach, who also likes to apply parts of Barcelona’s philosophy in his team’s game. And if the so-called “language barrier” was an issue related to playing in England, the Catalan coach will surely remove at least a part of that issue.
Anyone who has watched Deulofeu’s matches with Barca B and the youth national teams surely know that the boy is very talented. He is a brilliant dribbler, he’s explosive and fast, and his trickery could leave the opponent’s defenders amazed. All of these traits in a bit more polished form could well end up making Deulofeu a world-class attacker one day. But the one thing he still lacks, and the one thing he might not learn in Spain, is the physical side of his game.
Deulofeu is primarily a winger whose style of play requires going “shoulder to shoulder” in 1v1 situations. Currently, he still lacks the physicality to win those battles, although his pace alone makes up for a lot. Playing in England will force Deulofeu to boost the physical side of his game and will also see him play with a lot less space than in the Barca’s B-team. Both of these things are likely to make Deulofeu a better player, and one could even say that the Premier League is a great “school” for the youngster.
As Everton has no buy-option on Deulofeu and the extent of the loan is only one year, it seems likely that the ultimate goal for both Barcelona and Deuloufeu is to have the player back in Barcelona after his loan to make a successful career in the Catalan club.
Perhaps in an ideal world the winger would have stayed in Barcelona for next season too, but especially after the arrival of the Brazilian wonderboy Neymar, it might have been too unrealistic to expect for Deulofeu to get the kind of playing time in Catalonia that would allow him to develop as a player in the ideal way. Everton provides him a great environment to polish his current traits and strenghten what currently are his weaknesses.
For Everton, Deulofeu presents an exciting opportunity. The young Spaniard will most definitely be an asset for the English club, and the collaboration of the two Catalans in Everton, Deulofeu and the coach Martinez, could lead to some brilliant results. At the same time, Deulofeu could also be considered a risk due to his very little experience from top-level football.
The jump from the Spanish 2nd division to the Premier League is not exactly small and could see the player struggle, at least in the very beginning. However, for Everton, it’s a risk worth taking considering the opportunities the youngster brings with him.
It might be unrealistic to think that Deulofeu could immediately shine in the biggest league in the world or even become a key player for his club straight away, but the talent the youngster possesses would be an asset to any club, as the competition for the player’s signature proved. The loan deal is certainly good business for Everton, and it’s also good business for Deulofeu, who will most likely get more guaranteed playing time than he would in Barcelona right now. And for Barcelona, this loan deal could well be great business in the long run as well.
Written by Jen Evelyn