Old Trafford last Wednesday, the Emirates Stadium today – a potentially daunting prospect, perhaps, for a 19-year-old. But when, like Everton's on-loan winger Gerard Deulofeu, you made your league debut for Barcelona in the Nou Camp at 17 and followed that up with a Champions' League appearance a few weeks later, perhaps not so daunting after all. Born in Riudarenes, Girona, Deulofeu joined Barcelona at the age of nine, had an advertising contract with Nike at 14, and has shone for Spain at every level up to Under-21. Eighteen goals in 33 games for Barcelona's B team in the Liga Adelante (Spain's second division) last season earned him the league's player-of-the-season award. But after awarding him a new four-year contract in May, Barcelona deemed a loan spell more appropriate than adding to his five substitute appearances for the first team. Everton beat several other clubs here and abroad to sign the talented Catalan on a season-long deal, but although he has managed nine appearances as a substitute there, including 40 minutes of the Merseyside derby, he had to wait for his first Premier League start and goal until last Saturday's 4-0 victory over Stoke City. The terms of Deulofeu's loan require Everton to pay Barcelona more the less he plays, and the signs against Stoke were that leaving him out will be increasingly difficult for reasons other than financial ones. His first-half strike was followed by several thrilling second-half runs, even if team-mates were sometimes visibly frustrated by yet another dribble or shot when a pass was on. One man who knows about trying to improve Deulofeu's team awareness is the Brighton head coach, Oscar Garcia, who was in charge of Barcelona B when the youngster reached reserve-team level. "He is the kind of player who needs to speak with the coaches a lot," he said. "I asked him, 'Who is the best player in the world for you?' And he told me, 'Messi'. So I showed him videos of Messi getting the ball back, running to help the team in defence, pressing a lot.
Why Barcelona chose Everton to educate their latest prodigy
The Independent | Dec 7