Everton Transfer Focus – Deulofeu bringing the excitement of the unknown to Goodison

Of the four signings brought to Everton by Roberto Martinez, the one which generated most excitement among supporters was the player about whom the least is known, on-loan Barcelona winger Gerard Deulofeu.

It’s not difficult to see why – much like Martinez himself, there is some wariness about the arrival of three players connected with a Wigan side that whimpered to relegation last season. Joel Robles, the Latics’ first-choice goalkeeper for the second half of last season, may be a Spain Under-21 international but he is perhaps best known in English football for the tragicomic goal he conceded against Tottenham, kicking the ball against Gareth Bale and being left helpless as it rebounded past him and into the net from a matter of yards out.

Antolin Alcaraz, meanwhile, has his doubters due to Wigan’s awful defensive record last season, as the FA Cup winners dropped out of the Premier League after conceding 73 goals in 38 games. That is a little harsh on the Peru international – a case of being found guilty by association – as he made precious few appearances, only 14, after a torrid time with injuries. That in itself, however, is enough to generate apprehension over a 31-year-old, who also missed Everton’s tour of the United States due to injury.

As for Arouna Kone, the striker signed for £6m, the reticence here comes from not so much his record but his age. Kone will turn 30 in November and Everton are not used to spending so much on someone of those years – under David Moyes the emphasis was generally on players in their early-to-mid 20s, with a handful of notable exceptions – such as Sylvain Distin, who, at 35, is possibly one of the fittest players at the club.

But Kone scored 13 goals in all competitions last season, enough to make him Everton’s top scorer, yet until Martinez gets a few competitive games under his belt questions marks as to where Kone fits in to the team will remain.

In the case of the three former Wigan players, familiarity hasn’t bred contempt so much as concern. Each player joins in a position where Everton are fairly well stocked, in the case of Robles and Alcaraz, who will back-up Tim Howard and Distin and Phil Jagielka respectively. Meanwhile in attack, Evertonians are used to seeing their side play with only one striker – as they did for much of the last decade under Moyes – so there is trouble envisioning how Kone will line-up with Nikica Jelavic and Victor Anichebe also vying for a place.

Deulofeu, though, comes with an impressive pedigree as a product of the Barcelona academy, and appearances for the Spain youth teams. For your rank and file Everton fan, that’s about as much as is known of the 19-year-old, barring the odd YouTube highlights package. Martinez has attempted to play down expectations around Deulofeu but his is the signing that has most excited Evertonians and, as such, the manager’s protests have largely fallen on deaf ears. As the new season approaches, Deulofeu is the player Evertonians are looking forward to seeing the most.

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