Deulofeu shows his Messi-like qualities

Everton 4 Stoke City 0

Deulofeu shows his Messi-like qualities

The teenager from Barcelona was probably the least well known of the trio of temporary deals the Everton manager wrapped up over the summer.

Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku and Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry have already made an impact in the formative stage of the Toffees early bid to qualify for the Champions League.

Deulofeu had only made substitute appearances in the Premier League, but on his first full start of the campaign against Stoke the Catalan prodigy signalled his talent to a wider audience with an eye-catching display. Those lucky enough to be at Goodison Park undoubtedly saw a future star in the making. Deulofeu has all the finesse of a player who, like Lionel Messi, has come through the finishing school of Barcelona’s celebrated La Masia youth academy.

The 19-year-old has the audacious skills, quick feet, sharp mind and the glue-like close control which allows Messi-esque mazy darting runs, but also with some of the swagger of his idol Cristiano Ronaldo. And following a mouth-watering 90 minutes against Stoke, in which Deulofeu scored one goal and had a hand in two others, Martinez admits he would find it hard to drop him to the bench for Everton’s trip to Old Trafford Wednesday.

“Would it be hard to leave Gerard out against Manchester United? I think so, yes,” Martinez said.

Deulofeu broke the deadlock for Everton with a sublime finish at the near post on the stroke of half-time and provided the cross – via a deflection off Barry – for Seamus Coleman to double Everton’s lead. Asmir Begovic in the Stoke goal denied Deulofeu a second after the teenager’s jinking run from his own half, but shortly afterwards he showed awareness from a corner kick to pick out Bryan Oviedo who produced a clinical finish from distance for Everton’s third. Lukaku, who had been the toast of Toffees fans for his Merseyside derby heroics the previous week, put the icing on the cake with a tap in late on but it was Deulofeu’s name on the lips of fans.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes, who revealed he just missed out on signing Deulofeu on loan last summer, said the defeat at Goodison Park emphasised the importance of strengthening in the January transfer window.

“I think we have to invest and improve the first team,” Hughes said. “We have got targets and we will see if we can bring them to the club. If we do that, it will help us.”

One player linked with a move away from Stoke is Begovic, who acquitted himself well against Everton despite the scoreline, and has interested Manchester City.

“We haven’t heard anything on that,” Hughes added. “Asmir is an exceptional keeper, as he proved again.”

EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Howard 6; Coleman 7, Jagielka 7, Distin 6, Oviedo 7; Deulofeu 9, McCarthy 7 (Stones 74; 6), Barry 7, Pienaar 6 (Mirallas 83; 6); Osman 7; Lukaku 6 (Jelavic 80; 5).

STOKE CITY (4-2-3-1): Begovic 7; Cameron 4, Shawcross 4, Muniesa 5, Pieters 4; Whelan 5, Nzonzi 5; Walters 6 (Shea 59; 5), Adam 4 (Jones 59; 5), Assaidi 6; Crouch 5.

Referee: Mike Jones 7.

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