Everton loanee Gerard Deulofeu has revealed he would like to return to Barcelona at the end of the season – even though manager Roberto Martinez is reportedly keen to prolong his spell at Goodison Park.
Last summer Everton and Barcelona agreed a season-long loan deal for Deulofeu, which could be extended for a second campaign should the Catalan club decide he is not ready to return to La Liga.
But with Celta Vigo boss Luis Enrique reportedly set to replace Gerardo Martino at Barcelona, reports in Spain recently claimed the Catalan club will ask Deulofeu to return – as Enrique was the coach who handed the forward his debut for Barcelona second team as a 16-year-old.
And Deulofeu has now fuelled the speculation, claiming that he also wants a Barcelona return.
"I would like to go back to Barcelona and that is my first choice," he was quoted as saying by Mundo Deportivo.
"I have finished the season very happy at Everton and due to my respect to Barcelona we should wait until Barcelona finish the season [to made a decision]. Then whatever has to happen will happen.
"I signed a one-year loan at Everton and now I will wait to receive a communication from Barcelona. I cannot say anything yet."
Even though he has started just nine Premier League games, Deulofeu has made a great impact on Martinez after grabbing four assists and netting three goals – including an amazing goal against Arsenal earlier in the season.
He is considered the best talent to emerge from Barcelona academy since Lionel Messi and recently Martinez expresesed his admiration for the player – hinting he would like to keep him on Merseyside.
"What is clear is that Gerard, at his early age, has come to a completely different culture and has provided a shining example of adaptation, and he has brought us an outstanding talent" Martinez said.
"It's always good to see that players who risk a lot can enjoy their time at another club and grow as players.
"[Regarding Barca] Gerard is ready for any challenge. Everyone who has seen him knows he has natural talent and the ability to unbalance [the rival]. I am convinced he will be a world star."