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Sunday January 8 2017
Deulofeu & Jese at a crossroads

It wasn’t supposed to be like this for Jese Rodriguez and Gerard Deulofeu, who were once heralded as the future of Spanish football, writes Feargal Brennan.

Wingers and creative midfielders are so often, almost by nature, frustrating figures within a team, often having to make their impact from the periphery.

However, despite this, these individuals are also often adored by their own fans for their flair, while the negatives can be overlooked by lovers of a Cruyff turn.

Two wingers not feeling much love in 2016-17 from fans and Coaches alike are Spaniards Gerard Deulofeu and Jese Rodriguez.

Deulofeu’s situation at Everton has left him as a forgotten figure at the club, starting just four Premier League games and only completing 90 minutes once under Ronald Koeman.

The 22-year-old has struggled to nail down a consistent first-team place since the end of last season and only showed fleeting glimpses of his talent. Preseason had looked positive for the former Barcelona youngster, however he has failed to convince Koeman of his suitability or passion.

Supporters have also grown irritated by him, his reputation for diving and a lack of physical aggression have irked Blues, who perceive him as uninterested. The latter is a little harsh as Deulofeu was clear in his intention to join the club in 2015, hoping to rekindle the form he had whilst on loan with them in 13-14.

Yet this appears to be the primary problem with him. During his loan spell and in the early stages of last season, he was full of pace and his crossing ability, consistently creating goals for Romelu Lukaku.

He looked set to be a wildcard for Everton - quick, unpredictable and with fine crossing ability - but his confidence and verve have deserted him.

Koeman has intimated that he is looking at other options, and Deulofeu’s playing time is likely to be limited this term, leading to talk of a loan move to Milan. Click here for sports betting on the ex-Sevilla loanee’s future.

Ability is not something he lacks, but he is presently bereft of the confidence, physicality and mentality to make the most of himself, that needs to addressed if he is resurrect his career.

Jese, meanwhile, is facing a different situation at Paris Saint-Germain. The attacker’s €25m move from Real Madrid to the French champions last summer caused a stir due to an excessive fee for a squad player at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Jese came through ranks at Real, and there were hopes that he could be a shining first-team light for future academy players, yet this failed to transpire.

A record-breaking, goal-scoring season for Madrid Castilla in 12-13, saw calls for him to be promoted into Jose Mourinho’s first team, but the Portuguese Coach declined.

Jese vented his frustration about Mourinho, always a mistake for a young player when dealing with the 53-year-old, and he had his wings quickly clipped by the club.

Under Carlo Ancelotti the following season, he was given a first-team run and a new deal and netted in El Clasico, but despite his promising start, he ended the campaign with a torn cruciate ligament.

The injury set him back, however he stated on his return that he hoped to come back as a more mature individual. He continued to struggle for consistent first-team football on his return, with questions being raised about both his attitude and his weight.

Last season, under both Rafa Benitez and Zinedine Zidane, he was used sparingly as a substitute, with an excess of talent blocking his route into the first team.

His move to France had looked to be clean break. The negativity of injury and too much competition at Madrid should’ve been forgotten and a new career built.

Yet things have started badly for Jese in France, with just one Ligue 1 start to his name. Thus, he again finds himself frustrated and in a long queue of attacking midfielders at the club.

Questions of attitude problems and arrogance have dogged the forward during his career. Whether that is an issue in France is unclear, but what is more apparent is that the transfer was a poor career choice.

Jese cuts a figure that is ambitious to play at the top, despite his limitations, and summer interest from La Liga was ignored in favour of his big-money move to Parc des Princes.

Frozen out of the team, with President Nasser Al-Khelaifi indicating this week that the transfer was a mistake, a return to a mid-table La Liga side looks likely to be the only route available for the 23-year-old to get back on track.

Once the talk of many a debate between Barca and Madrid fans over who had the better gem and heralded as Spain’s great hopes for the future, it wasn’t supposed to be like this for Deulofeu and Jese.

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