Should Everton push to formalise a Barcelona link?

The performance of Gerard Deulofeu for Everton against Stoke City caught the attention of many people, with the winger impressing.

Deulofeu is on loan from La Liga giants Barcelona, and the 19 year old is highly rated by the Catalan side. The plan is for Deulofeu to gain experience on Merseyside after producing a number of eye-catching displays for the Barcelona B side, as the logjam of attacking talent at the Camp Nou has Deulofeu on the periphery.

The Spain Under 21 international marked his first league start for the Toffees with a sensational performance against Mark Hughes' Stoke, scoring the opening goal in Everton's 4-0 win and terrorising the Potters' backline throughout the game. A number of teams were interested in securing Deulofeu on loan in the summer, and Roberto Martinez was delighted to secure his signature.

"He is one of the most talented footballers in Spanish football," said Martinez. "You can see why we worked so hard to attract him to the club. He is quite a unique talent. The moment he made his Barcelona debut against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu aged 16 is when he caught my attention. There was a long list trying to take Gerard on loan and the fact he wanted to come to Everton was a fantastic feeling.”

It was speculated during the summer that Barcelona preferred to send their talented youngster out to Everton because they believed that Roberto Martinez's footballing philosophy offered Deulofeu the best chance to progress before returning to Barcelona. With Martinez taking strong influence from the passing style of Barcelona, it's easy to see why the decision makers at the Camp Nou were so eager to send Deulofeu to Goodison Park.

In fact, Barcelona vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu admitted earlier in the season that Deulofeu could even stay on Merseyside beyond this season. "Deulofeu joined Everton on loan for one season. If all parties agree, he could stay for another season."

The prospect of seeing Deulofeu continue his development with Everton must have fans excited, but it also raises the possibility of more Barcelona players being sent to work with Martinez after seeing Deulofeu impress. They are evidently fans of Martinez's philosophy, and should the winger return to Barcelona well prepared to feature in the first team, their confidence in Everton as something of a 'feeder club' will grow.

Youngsters from the B team such as Adama Traore, Jean Marie Dongou and Sergi Samper will be on the fringes of Gerardo Martino's squad in the near future, and will need playing time in order to develop. Having seen Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas benefit from learning the English way of playing football, it's possible that the Toffees may see more Barcelona talent gracing the Goodison Park turf.

image: © illarterate

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