Gracia On Deulofeu: “He's One Of Our Most Important Players”
By Kevin Affleck
Gerard Deulofeu returns to Everton this weekend hoping to make his first start at Goodison Park since he left and with the Watford dressing room underlining the rich potential he possesses.
Deulofeu was a substitute when the Hornets slugged out a 2-2 draw in the blue half of Merseyside in December and only came on for the last half-hour. But judging by the reception he got from the home fans at Goodison Park at full-time, and the fact he threw nearly every item of his kit into the crowd, he is still remembered fondly on Merseyside for his 29 Premier League starts and five goals during two spells with the Toffees.
Whatever happens in his subsequent career at Vicarage Road, Deulofeu will always be remembered for that goal against Wolves in the FA Cup semi-final, and Ètienne Capoue is pleased to have someone with those match-turning qualities in the ranks.
“Before he signed we needed that player,” Capoue told Premier League Productions. “We signed him and he brought us the thing we missed offensively. He did it very well last season so I hope he will do much better. He has a big space to reach something else. I hope he will do it.”
Deulofeu partnered Troy Deeney in attack for most of last season and the captain has made no secret of how he demands more of a player with the Spaniard's gifts and how he wants him to do what he did at Cardiff more often.
“There is a lot of pressure on him,” said Deeney. “And he's put a lot of pressure on himself in recent interviews saying he wants to be scoring more goals. A player of his calibre should be scoring more goals. There is an expectation for him to score but it's a team game and we've all got to chip in. All the teams have players who are scoring a lot of goals, so we need four or five to chip in.”
Javi Gracia redefined Deulofeu's role last season, positioning him in a front two and asking him to weave his magic in more central areas. The Head Coach has been reluctant to play him out wide but did so in the final game of last season and the first one of this, suggesting he plans to mix things up, especially now with Danny Welbeck and Ismaïla Sarr as attractive attacking options.
“Gerard has different options to play as a winger or as a striker and in different shapes as well,” said the Head Coach. “His virtues are always offensive and he has speed. His quality gives me the possibility to play different ways. He is one of the most important players for us.”