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Barcelona Loanee Gerard Deulofeu's Future Remains Uncertain As He Scores for Everton Against Arsenal

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The young Catalan winger helped Everton salvage a draw with the Premier League leaders, but his future is unsettled.

Shaun Botterill

Gerard Deulofeu collected an overhit cross. He nudged the ball with his right foot, gently, then once more, before unleashing a guided missile into Arsenal's top corner. Five minutes from time, the score was 1-1. The Catalan, on loan from FC Barcelona, was Everton's hero of the night as they took a point from the league-leading gunners.

That was the 19-year-old's second ever goal in a top league, having managed only two La Liga appearances and scoring in neither. Undoubtedly the star at Barcelona B, where he was among the first names in the Liga Adelante scoring charts, he saw himself as ready enough to play full-time for a top-level team.

As fellow Spainiard and Everton coach Roberto Martinez continues to give him an expanded role, Deulofeu's ambition seems correct.

Deulofeu is right-footed and prefers to play on the right-wing. At 1.80m (5'11'') he is fairly tall, especially for a La Masia forward. He still possesses a nimbleness that allows him to bypass defenders. "Deulofeu has incredible pace," Martinez said after the game, "I've never seen a player so quick with the ball."

The biggest criticism of him at this stage had been an allegation that he was arrogant. It's often said Deulofeu considers Cristiano Ronaldo his role model, though a direct quote is harder to find. In any case, Ronaldo is one of the best in the world so it's not really a problem. But, his detractors insist, he may pick up on the Portugal star's less-appealing traits such as arrogance or selfishness.

Ronaldo can get away with that because he's the top dog in any team he plays for, but Deulofeu would be quickly shown the door if he thought he deserved to have more of the ball than the likes of Andres Iniesta, Neymar, or Lionel Messi.

While his time in Everton should be a growth experience, it should also be a humbling experience. Deulofeu cannot be selfish at Everton and he needs to be aware of that. He still is too eager to take players on all by his own and his passing accuracy is not the best, but, he seems to be learning.

In an interview with Spanish radio, the winger said he was learning how to contribute more to the team defensively. The rough-and-tumble Premier League should toughen him up.

But what will he do when the season is over?

"Right now, I'm focused on Everton," he said. "I'm here for a year, then I return to Barca."

At least, that may be Plan A. Plan B, which may be looking likelier, is that Deulofeu extends his loan spell. There is already an agreement in place for Barcelona to opt to send him out on loan again. Deulofeu likes Liverpool fine, and Martinez has been a willing teacher.

Why would Barca pass up on such a talent? Simply, the team already has enough wingers. Cristian Tello, Alexis Sanchez, and Pedro Rodriguez would all be ahead of Deulfoeu in the pecking order to get a spot on the right.

But if Deulofeu is given a second season at Everton, what happens after that? None of the three are old enough that they would logically need to be replaced even in a year and a half's time. Unless one falls out of favor, or unless Deulofeu accepts a reduced role, there may not be room in the squad for him.

Barcelona have no great need for his position, and even less so with the recent debuts of Adama Traore and Jean Marie Dongou, who in 11 minutes already has more goals in his Barcelona career than Deulofeu, not to mention the presence of Ibrahim Afellay, Isaac Cuenca, and Bojan Krkic technically still on the team.

Deulofeu may yet develop into a brilliant player, but it's unclear if he would do so at the Camp Nou.