COMMENT By Matt Farr
Everton are keen to bring in reinforcements this month, and their acquisition of Morgan Schneiderlin for £22 million last week made their intentions clear.
However, Schneiderlin’s arrival did not come without the need for departures, and that saw midfield outcast Tom Cleverley shipped out on loan to Watford until the end of the season.
Another Everton flop, striker Oumar Niasse, was also offloaded on loan, where the Senegal international joined Hull.
With AC Milan circling, Spanish winger Gerard Deulofeu looks to be the next name on the Everton departures list, but the club would be making a mistake letting him leave.
The chances are, that if Everton are prepared to let him leave, manager Ronald Koeman will have already lined someone up as a replacement. Potentially, that could be Memphis Depay – but if they really want to bring in a new winger, Deulofeu shouldn’t be the one making way.
He is a formidable talent, and a highly-rated product of Barcelona’s La Masia academy. But the issue here is a lack of trust. Koeman does not appear to view Deulofeu in quite such high regard, and has used him only sparingly this season.
The 22-year-old has only started five games in all competitions this season, and was left out of the matchday squad in four of their last five Premier League games.
It can be presumed that is because of the ongoing talks with AC Milan over a potential loan deal, but Koeman didn’t appear much of a fan even before the talks began.
Meanwhile, Koeman’s view of Deulofeu has been made even clearer in the absence of Yannick Bolasie. The winger suffered a season-ending injury in December, but the former Southampton boss has hardly turned to Deulofeu to fill the role.
His longest run in the first-team this season has been four games – of which he played the full 90 minutes on just one occasion. Therefore we’ve not been able to really see Deulofeu hit his stride.
A fine dribbler, he likes to cut inside, can score goals and has great pace. In an Everton attack that has often been lacking in those areas this season, it is hard to see why he has not played more often.
His technique is also flawless, but improvements could be made in his mentality. Despite his excellence in the final-third, he has not quite cracked what is required of him in his defensive duties, but in time that will be improved.
The Spaniard would no doubt relish the opportunity of more regular first-team football over the remainder of the season, and while it would perhaps be a great benefit to his development as a player, Everton cannot run the risk of him becoming too accustomed to his surroundings in Italy.
The two clubs may negotiate a deal that allows AC Milan the option of a permanent deal for Deulofeu in the summer. If he performs well and enjoys his time away from Goodison Park, he may not want to return to Koeman’s side.
At least at this stage, any potential deal would be until the end of the season only, and Koeman could hold a whole new perspective of him in six months’ time.
However, there is still the risk of him turning that loan spell into a permanent one – at Milan or any other side – in the summer, and Everton should not let that happen.
In other Everton transfer news, the Toffees are eyeing a player-plus-cash deal for this Premier League defender.