After three signings in two productive days, Everton moved to make it four in three. Proving the transfer net stretches beyond the Wigan area, Roberto Martinez is adding a touch of Catalan magic to the Everton squad. Gerard Deulofeu arrives on a season-long loan from Barcelona, with the Spanish giants keen for the youngster to develop.
The loan deal represents a change in direction for the club, as David Moyes preferred against developing the players of other clubs. However, this appears a good move for all concerned. Barcelona give one of their bright hopes an increased chance of regular football, the player gains Premier League experience and Everton improve the squad at minimal cost.
Contracted to his parent club until 2017, Barcelona posted this video on their website when Deulofeu signed this new deal. Charting his rise through the ranks, the number of mouthwatering goals shown reaches doubles figures and offers a glimpse of his burgeoning potential.
Scoring 18 goals for Barcelona B in 2012-13, the fourth-best return in the Spanish second division, Deulofeu was the creative force in the side and the 19-year-old already has caps for his country at Under-21 level.
Displaying promise from an early age, the highly rated Deulofeu joined the famed La Masia academy at 9, while his Barcelona B debut arrived at the tender age of 16 in March 2011.
A first team call-up arrived in April 2011, but Deulofeu watched on from the bench as his teammates fell 2-1 at Real Sociedad. September of the following season saw a first Barcelona B goal, though the talented youngster could not stop his side losing 2-1 to Hercules.
A month after his first Barcelona B goal, Deulofeu made his first-team debut, introduced as a 63rd-minute substitute for David Villa, as Barcelona coasted to a 5-0 victory over Real Mallorca.
Establishing a place in the Barcelona second team, a respectable first season ended with nine goals from 34 appearances. Another first-team appearance came last season, the academy product appearing as a substitute, somewhat eerily, in another 5-0 win against Mallorca.
Though on the fringes of the first team, the real progress came by way of his Barcelona B performances in 2012-13, when he had six assists in addition to the 18 goals.
Quick, fleet-footed and possessing a keen eye for goal, there is much to like about this latest addition. Nevertheless, doubts are sure to linger over the ability to adapt to the physical rigours of the English game; doubts swiftly tackled in the fast-paced environment of the Premier League.
Similar to Kevin Mirallas in his ability to play in a variety of positions, this prodigious prospect offers another attacking option as Martinez persists in bolstering the team with players suited to his preferred brand of football.
Continuing to impress via this proactive transfer approach, Martinez is beginning to mould the squad ahead of the first preseason fixture this weekend. Going through their paces in preparation for Austrian champions Austria Vienna, Martinez starts a promising preseason schedule by means of a stern test, though in possession of a group lifted by new arrivals.