Gerard Deulofeu has officially completed his move to AC Milan on a loan deal until the end of the season from Everton.
The 22 year old Spanish winger joins Milan on a 6-month loan, for a fee of between €750,000 and €800,000.
The player became Milan’s main target for the January window after talks for 19-year-old Ascoli wonderkid Ricardo Orsolini were ended by Sino-Europe Sports.
Negotiations over Deulofeu had previously stalled: Everton foremost needed to secure a replacement for the player. The eventually found their man in 19 year old wonderkid Ademola Lookman, formerly of Charlton Athletic.
Manager Ronald Koeman then authorised Deulofeu, who had not featured for the Toffees in their last seven league matches (being excluded from the squad entirely for five of which), to leave the club after only 18 months.
The two clubs still had to agree to the mechanism of the transfer: a dry loan, a loan with an option or obligation, or an outright purchase. The English side preferred the latter, but Milan were unable to offer such a deal due to an executive requirement that the January window be run with a zero balance.
The parties came to an agreement on Thursday, and the deal was promptly announced on Milan TV and the club’s official Twitter page. However, the tweet was deleted soon thereafter, as Everton expressed their discomfort with announcing the signing before a medical had been completed and the paperwork signed.
Despite the miscommunication, Deulofeu landed in Milano last night at 19:25, and underwent physical testing before signing his contract today.
The player will surely join Montella and the rest of the team in training right away. He will wear the number 19 shirt, famously donned by legend Andriy Shevchenko, and in recent years worn by Jérémy Ménez and Luiz Adriano.
Despite his likely inclusion in the 23 man squad for the Wednesday Coppa Italia clash against Juventus in Turin, Deulofeu will almost surely not feature for quite some time still.
He will need time to regain match fitness and adjust to a new tactic and role, as did Mario Pašalić (who only made his first appearance for the club two months after joining).
The Spaniard’s arrival with nevertheless be welcome, as he provides much-needed cover on both flanks for an out-of-form M’Baye Niang and an overplayed Suso.
A la Masia graduate who lit up the Spanish second tier 4 years ago, with 18 goals in 33 games playing out wide, Deulofeu first joined Everton from Barcelona on loan in 2013.
His success prompted the Spanish giants’ manager Luis Enrique to promote him to the first team the following season, but he was ultimately loaned to Sevilla. He failed to impress under Unai Emery, and Everton swooped in to sign him permanently in 2015 for a fee of €8,000,000.
The Catalan club inserted a €12,000,000 buyback clause into the deal, however, which reportedly complicated Milan’s attempts to obtain an €18,000,000 buying option on the player this January.
Regardless, Deulofeu’s second Everton stint is likely at its end: with only a year left on his contract beyond this season, he is likely to make a permanent switch away this summer. Milan could attempt to sign him then, despite being denied their option, depending on the will of new Director of Sport Massimo Mirabelli and new CEO Marco Fassone.
Deulofeu plays most matches on the right wing, but has also been utilized on the left wing and as a center forward. Being right footed, and technically gifted with an eye for the goal, as well as excelling crossing ability, he could perform well as an inside forward on the left side, competing with Niang.
This would also allow Giacomo Bonaventura to slide back into central midfield, providing much-needed creativity through the middle. The Spaniard may rekindle some old chemistry with Suso, his former U-21 National Team squadmate.
Deulofeu has struggled with fitness, however, playing the full 90 minutes only once this season for Everton, while also seeming reluctant to press at times. He is also quite notorious for simulating and going down very easily. Overall, he is a very raw player who will have to work hard with Montella in order to achieve any measure of success at Milan.
The official press release from the club reads as follows:
AC Milan announces that it has acquired from Everton FC on a temporary basis, until 30 June 2017 with right to buy, Gerard Deulofeu.