Gerard Deulofeu has been one of Barça’s most talked about youth players for a long time. He was only 9 years old when he was featured in an interview on television for the first time. He was 14 years old when he was dubbed ‘the new Ronaldinho’, the next wonder kid at La Masia, and this is also when the top English clubs started to fight over who could land this Barça talent at their club. The hype hasn’t stopped. This summer he helped Spain secure the U-19 European Championship title without a problem. He was there to help the youngsters on the team, though he himself was only 18 years old. Last season also marked his debut with the first team, meaning that the expectations and talk about Gerard Deulofeu that has existed since he was 14 years old has blown up even more. He has already featured on the covers of the major sport papers in Barcelona more than once, and now, instead of calling him the new Ronaldinho, people are calling him a future Ballon d’Or winner.
There is no doubt that Deulofeu has a very special talent and that he could win the Ballon d’Or one day. But he has a problem, a problem that in my eyes is very big: he believes he is the best already. It’s not unusual for a player that since childhood has been dubbed a wonder kid to get ahead of himself and believe that he is ready, even if there is still a long way to go. There are so many cases of players labelled as future stars who fail and end up playing in lower teams instead of becoming the very best. This is something I’m very afraid of seeing happen to Deulofeu, and lately, instead of proving me wrong he is starting to prove me right.
Gerard is one of the players at Barça I’ve been following the longest. I started watching videos of his incredible skills on YouTube when he was 14 years old, and I’ve followed him on and off ever since. For me, it’s always been a certainty that he would make it to the top level because he has that amazing thing, a special talent. Over the years he has shown quite a substantial ego, and he has named Madrid’s star player Cristiano Ronaldo as a role model. There’s nothing wrong with his choice of role model, Ronaldo is an amazing footballer, and sometimes you have to be egoistical to succeed. However, it is harder to make it at the highest levels if you go alone rather than with your teammates. I’ve always been sure that Gerard, being at the best school of humility – La Masia, would come around and become more humble and more of a team player. I’m not too sure anymore. Watching him the last few seasons and during the summer’s U-19 Championship, I’ve only seen a boy who is there to make it all on his own. Sometimes his skills help him and he succeeds in passing 4-5 players, but on the highest level, it won’t be that way. What will happen when he notices he can’t pass them all? I love the skills of Gerard Deulofeu, but I just can’t stand his attitude.
Being in Barcelona for a month now, I’ve noticed that many of the fans I talk to over here share the same feeling as me. They don’t like Gerard’s attitude. We become upset when he dribbles an opponent on the pitch and will come back to the player in question and ask if he wants an autograph as well. It’s that kind of self love I can’t stand. I really hope he will change. If nine years at La Masia have not been able to change his attitude, I’m not sure anything will be able to do so in the future. Gerard Deulofeu is an amazing football player and he can go as far as possible, but he is his own worst enemy. If he keeps on this path of always going solo with the same cocky attitude, it will be Deulofeu alone that prevents himself from becoming the best in the world one day.