When Gerard Deulofeu signed off his loan spell in May last year with a fond farewell, there was a strong feeling that he might be back as soon as August on another season-long loan when, as expected, incoming Barcelona boss Luis Enrique decided that the then 20-year-old wasn't quite ready to be a part of Barcelona's senior side.
Though Deulofeu would end up being farmed out on loan for the 2014-15 season to Sevilla – a move designed, no doubt, to see how the player would fare in the environs of La Liga compared to the more hectic and less Continental English Premier League – Evertonians could never quite let him go. The love affair that many Blues had developed with the mercurial Spaniard would live on and play out on Twitter, with the prolonged life of the #HesMagicYaKnow hashtag and Gerard responding with affection to playful ribbing of his "very very wind" reference when things got particularly blustery on Merseyside.
It's not surprising, therefore, that after a difficult season under Unai Emery at the RamÃ³n SÃ¡nchez PizjuÃ¡n Stadium, the now 21-year-old Deulofeu has elected to turn down a more lucrative offer elsewhere and return to his second home at Goodison Park on a permanent basis. Rejecting the prospect of a third season on loan, he clearly wants to settle in one team now and work on fulfilling the enormous potential that had observers of him as a teenager branding him as the "next Cristiano Ronaldo".
In negotiating a buy-back cause over the first two years and first option on his sale after that, Barcelona have retained an interest in their academy graduate should he indeed become the player many feel he can; Everton, meanwhile, have recaptured a player who can make a genuine difference to a team that struggled last term to emulate its achievements of the season before when Deulofeu was in the side. What's more, they have concluded brilliant business with a fee of just £4.26m.
While he was becoming an increasingly peripheral figure at Sevilla, and perhaps reminsicing about the impact he made with the Blues, many Evertonians were pining at times for the moments of magic – sometimes game-changing moments – that Deulofeu had been able to conjure up during Roberto Martinez's first season at the club.
The standout moment of his first spell will be that magnificent strike at Arsenal, a goal almost out of nothing that rescued Everton from familiar defeat on the Gunners' home turf. One of the other abiding, less spectacular but equally telling memories, however, comes from the win at Sunderland in April last year where his sheer bloody-minded persistence in running at the right side of the Black Cats’ defence finally paid off when he forced a goal in off Wes Brown.
It was another one of those performances under Martinez where you just couldn’t see how the Blues were going to find the inspiration to unlock an opposition defence and a game that without Deulofeu's contribution might have ended in another annoying goalless draw rather than a seventh straight win, the final salvo in Everton’s abortive cavalry-charge towards the top four that season.
In completing the permament acquistion of the triumverate that made up what Martin Samuel infamously labelled "Everton's £50m loan sham", Martinez has acquired another known quantity with experience not only of the Premier League but of playing for this team as well. For all Deulofeu's sparks of magic, however, it's a signing that comes with trade-offs if, as expected, he is deployed mostly on the flanks. Where Aaron Lennon would run his backside off tracking back and shame the other players into working harder, Gerard’s mind will likely always be on attack.
Certainly Emery's comments that, "he isn't mature enough yet and needs spirit of sacrifice [for the team]" suggest that Everton will likely have signed a very similar player to the one that left a little over a year ago. He will have learned much from his experience at Sevilla and perhaps been humbled somewhat but remains a work in progress and an inviting challenge for Martinez to groom and mold as a full-time member of the squad rather than a temporary addition.
Like Tom Cleverley, it's unlikely he will have been brought in as the much-vaunted "number 10" that Martinez has made a top priority for the summer but, similar to Kevin Mirallas, his versatility and ability to play off Romelu Lukaku when needed is an important asset.
As pleasing as it is to see the club land two good signings before the transfer window has officially opened, though, it's vital that they mark the beginning of the manager's transfer business and not its peak. In an ideal world, the addition of a player like Cleverley on a free transfer and a rough diamond on a cut-price deal from the Continent would be the cherries on the top of a summer of top-class acquisitions down the spine of the team.
With Martinez's budget unknown and the club unlikely to hand him the millions he really needs to add genuine quality, particularly in goal, in attacking central midfield and up front, the manager won't be operating in anything approaching an ideal world. Whether it's another masterstroke on loan or a couple more imaginative additions for modest fees, he'll have a few more tricks up his sleeve before the transfer window closes.
Reader Comments (25)
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1 Posted 25/06/2015 at 22:06:57
2 Posted 26/06/2015 at 00:01:38
Deulofeu is an exciting prospect, and with him, Lukaku and Barkley we have a potentially brilliant attacking 3. Potential being the key word. All 3 come off the back of below-par seasons, and they have it all to prove.
Mirallas, for me, must stay. He still remains our most potent attacking force, and will be an important player to keep the young lads on their toes as he can fill in in all 3 positions.
We should be able to sell McGeady now, a player who is simply not up to the standards but would be a good signing for a newly promoted team. A few million for him could help further building.
A defender is our no1 priority, Stones is still a work in progress and needs competition while Jags is getting older and thus always susceptible to injuries.
The lad from Juve sounds a good fit, but maybe a bit pricey. A solid Âjags styleÂ defender from the championship may be a better fit. But I couldnÂt name one, thatÂs the scouts job.
The the famous Âno10Â. And a solid forward to take KoneÂs place and really give Lukaku so,e competition.
These 3 signings should provide us with a squad able to challenge the top-6 and maybe have a good cup run.
Ideally a new Keeper would be on the cards, but that seems unlikely at least for this year. However with Arsenal signing Cech, their Mexican keeper may be restless come next year and would be a great addition.
3 Posted 26/06/2015 at 03:39:00
4 Posted 26/06/2015 at 04:16:10
Somehow, I donÂt think thatÂs going to happen though.
Happy to see Deulofeu back. He certainly adds another dimension to our attack. Loved seeing him running at opposition defenses along with Coleman. That has been sorely lacking this season.
5 Posted 26/06/2015 at 04:36:34
6 Posted 26/06/2015 at 07:34:04
7 Posted 26/06/2015 at 08:01:55
8 Posted 26/06/2015 at 09:24:34
9 Posted 26/06/2015 at 09:32:07
The thing that excites me is that last time he was here both Lukaku and Barkley sprang to life when he was on the pitch. Many talk about his Arsenal goal but the one that sticks with me is when the three of them led the charge away at Newcastle allowing Ross to run half the length of the pitch and net. More of the same lads please.
10 Posted 26/06/2015 at 09:50:40
LetÂs be realistic. At the moment we will not be able to keep star players. So if he really becomes a star he will be Âoutgrowing usÂ and will not stick around. (If Hibbert was as good as Lahm, he would have left already.)
11 Posted 26/06/2015 at 09:47:54
12 Posted 26/06/2015 at 09:58:08
ps: I hope we are not kept waiting long before the next slice appears!
13 Posted 26/06/2015 at 10:19:57
14 Posted 26/06/2015 at 10:19:38
Now more signings please!!!
15 Posted 26/06/2015 at 18:51:21
16 Posted 26/06/2015 at 19:07:12
17 Posted 26/06/2015 at 19:09:06
18 Posted 28/06/2015 at 11:38:14
I have never heard of Sergio Roberto, but judging by the comments, he must be worth looking at.
What position does he play?
I certainly hope we get a quality GK in, donÂt fancy another season, being solely reliant on an erratic Tim Howard. I think he lost us a few points last season.
19 Posted 29/06/2015 at 14:30:51
20 Posted 29/06/2015 at 21:17:17
IÂd also like Lennon Â– is that asking too much?
Frank C Â– I said in another place, wouldnÂt it be easier if the RS simply relocated to the south coast.
21 Posted 30/06/2015 at 09:24:26
I couldnÂt put it better myself; I agree with you completely. I wonder if the powers that be can see the obvious?
22 Posted 30/06/2015 at 13:50:48
Translate that into Spanish and pin it on Deulofeu's locker at Finch Farm and this muppet has just written the best ever pep-talk for an Everton player.
23 Posted 30/06/2015 at 14:47:30
1. They only ever report second stories;
2. People are more interested in the crappy text message pages;
3. ItÂs shit.
24 Posted 30/06/2015 at 14:57:51
We have the man to put the ball in the back of the net even if at times he looks clumsy and disinterested; all we need now is the man to provide the service as the only two we have at the moment (Osman and Pienaar) are at the end of their careers.
Signing hard-working midfield players is okay but I think that we have more than enough in that department. We badly need creativity. Creativity makes all the difference.
25 Posted 30/06/2015 at 15:07:51
1. They are so rich they can afford him
2. He speaks Spanish
3. He is quite good at football
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