With a huge list of possible transfers arriving at Goodison Park this month, there is one player that most Everton fans would be sad to see heading for the exit door.
Ahh the January Transfer Window. The month of mayhem when Sky Sports News turns into a merry-go-round of rampant speculation. Hours spent watching adults fiddling with the giant and badly named ‘Sky-Pad’. And all that yellow. Bright yellow. Enough yellow to make Sky Sports News feel like a brand new budget airline. Especially when you consider that Jim White does look quite a lot like a pilot. Anyway…
This January Transfer Window is sure to be a busy one for Ronald Koeman and his new head of recruitment Steve Walsh at Everton. The former Southampton manager has had an up-and-down start to his tenure at Goodison Park and has inherited an ageing squad that requires a fair bit of improvement – he still has Darron Gibson on the books for heaven’s sake. And whilst the club have already dipped into the market with the addition of young English winger Ademola Lookman from League One side Charlton Athletic for a staggering £11million, there is still plenty of work to be done.
— Ball Street (@BallStreet) January 5, 2017
There is, however, one name who has been consistently linked with a move away from the club this month that most fans would be sad to see leave. That man is Gerard Deulofeu.
Gerard Deulofeu is, it has to be said, inconsistent. He can be frustrating at times, and clearly doesn’t have the work rate that Koeman requires from his players, which was evident in August when the manager came out and criticised this aspect of the winger’s game, along with team mate Kevin Mirallas.
“With Gerard, with Kevin… I like the players, but they need to run more. They need to do more, they need to press more.”
However, if the rumours are true and he does leave Everton for another club, it could well be a huge mistake on the manager’s part.
What Deulofeu lacks in effort, he more than makes up for with explosive pace, intricate trickery, the ability to beat his man and fantastic crossing ability. And it is that last one, his crossing ability, that sets him apart not only from the other wingers at the club, but also from many other wide men in the Premier League.
How often do we hear commentators speak about the talents of wingers, before ending with the phrase ‘but his end product is often lacking’? I can think of countless players who are guilty of this. However, Deulofeu’s crossing ability, whether from deep or at the byline after skipping past a bemused full back, is often spot on.
In the first half of last season the young Spaniard had a fantastic run of form that saw him bag eight assists in 16 games. And I’m talking about proper assists. Not phoney Fantasy Football assists where a sideways three yard pass counts, we are talking dangerous crosses to the back post and intricate defence-splitting through balls – especially like these two against Sunderland and West Ham, in the below vid.
Romelu Lukaku benefited massively from this kind of service, and bagged seven goals last season assisted by the Spanish wizard. And despite Lukaku scoring plenty this season without Deulofeu’s help, there has often been cries from the Everton faithful that Big Rom needs more service. He has, it must be said, had to carve out a lot of chances for himself this season. Perhaps, if Everton can find a way to accommodate him, Deulofeu could be the answer to these prayers. Not only could he help out right away, but at just 22-years-old, there is lots of expectation at what he will be able to do as he progresses and develops. He has all of the attributes to make it to the top of the game, if he can realise his full potential.
This season started brightly for Deulofeu seeing him fill in as a makeshift centre forward when Lukaku was recovering after a hectic summer at the European Championships. However, since those few opening games he has fallen down the pecking order as Koeman has opted to go with new signing Yannick Bolasie (RIP), Kevin Mirallas, Aaron Lennon and even Enner ‘definitely-not-a-last-minute-panic-addition’ Valencia over him.
AC Milan have asked to take Everton’s Gerard Deulofeu on loan with a view to a permanent move in the summer. (Source: Daily Mail) pic.twitter.com/z2pTEZlOFi
— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) 5 January 2017
The most worrying sign of all for Everton fans who want the player to stay, is that he hasn’t even made the bench for three of The Toffees’ last four games. Not even the bench. And if there is one thing tiring full backs in the midst of a long and busy Christmas schedule would hate to see it is an explosive, fast, tricky winger, with a good delivery, warming up on the touchline. Perhaps this shows that Koeman has lost faith in Deulofeu. And perhaps this does mean that his short but entertaining spell at Everton is coming to an end.
There are – if the Sky Sports rumours are to be believed – a number of clubs interested in his signature, including AS Roma and AC Milan in Italy, so if he is up for sale, then Everton fans have probably already seen the last of him. Having lost Bolasie to injury for the whole of 2017, with Lennon and Mirallas looking average, and with new signing Lookman being a teenager who is unproven at the highest level, surely selling Deulofeu would be a mistake.