Everton Should Fear FC Barcelona Gerard Deulofeu Buyback

"Gerard Deulofeu (10)" by Catherine Kõrtsmik from Tallinn, Estonia - U-19 Portugal vs Spain.Uploaded by Dudek1337. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
"Gerard Deulofeu (10)" by Catherine Kõrtsmik from Tallinn, Estonia - U-19 Portugal vs Spain.Uploaded by Dudek1337. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons /

Everton boss Roberto Martinez revealed Barcelona’s buyback clause today relating to attacker Gerard Deulofeu. While there are certain measures of protection in the contract for Everton, they should still be very wary of Deulofeu heading back to Camp Nou.

In case you missed it, Martinez disclosed that the Spanish champions can buy back Deulofeu for as little as 6.3 million pounds. This was a startling revelation given the Toffees continued dependence on Deulofeu in attack. I, for one, was surprised that Everton would agree to take the Spanish winger back with such risky conditions in the contract.

In the interest of fairness, we should also note that it’s not a simple buyback clause. It can only be activated at the end of the season (no January moves allowed) and if Barcelona take him back they must keep him for a full season or face stiff penalties. If they bring him back they must either play him in the first team or pay Everton a pretty stiff fee.

Still, the stiff fee won’t discourage Barcelona from moving for Deulofeu if they believe he can help them. They are one of the world’s largest clubs and won’t be bothered by splashing some cash if need be. The real debate hinges on whether or not Barcelona needs a player like Deulofeu.

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His performance at Everton has been pretty uneven. His end product has been quite good with one goal and five assists in ten Premier League appearances but his overall player rating has been below average. He is deployed by Martinez almost exclusively as an attacking right-winger so he does have a fair amount of defensive responsibilities. It’s his lack of ability in defense that causes his player rating to be weighed down despite his offensive statistics.

At Barcelona, their deployment of a 4-3-3 in contrast to Everton’s 4-2-3-1 makes playing Deulofeu a much better idea. He can play for Barcelona as the wide forward on the right and won’t be asked to contribute in defense nearly as much. Stylistically if he goes back to Barcelona it’s a safe bet that slotting into his more natural position would elevate his level of play. While he has been complimentary of the stylish football Everton play, it’s not as clean a fit for him as the Barcelona philosophy.

This isn’t just a question of playing philosophy though. It’s more a question of whether or not Deulofeu could crack the match day lineup back at his Spanish club. Their front three of Neymar, Messi and Luis Suarez is thoroughly entrenched which would make attaining a starting role almost impossible for him. Curiously though, there isn’t a ton of young, wide, attacking talent on the bench there. Deulofeu would need to beat out the likes of Sandro Ramirez, Munir El Haddadi and Rafinha for a place on the bench. This isn’t an insurmountable group for someone with the top-flight experience that Deulofeu has gained in the Premier League.

Ultimately the decision for Barcelona will come down to whether or not Deulofeu can help them off the bench. If they believe he can surpass their other youngsters then he will certainly be headed back to Spain sooner rather than later. If the young prospects at Camp Nou can develop rapidly then he’ll stay at Everton.

It’s a huge risk for Everton to continue to invest playing time in Deulofeu who could so easily be headed back to the Spanish champions. Only time will tell if they are doing Barcelona’s training work or if they’ve invested wisely in a cornerstone member of their squad.