Roberto Martinez has told Gerard Deulofeu he can be as good as he wants to be after seeing him steer Everton into the Capital One Cup semi-finals.
The Toffees boss looked on as the Spain international fired the Barclays Premier League side into a 20th-minute lead at Middlesbrough with a superb solo effort, and then set up Romelu Lukaku to seal a 2-0 victory eight minutes later with another delicious piece of skill.
Asked how good the 21-year-old can be, Martinez replied: “As good as he wants – that’s a big part.
“As you know, football is not an individual game, football is a team game and as a player, you are never too old or too young to learn and you need to get things that help you to become effective for the team.
“Gerard is a young man in terms of the amount of games that he’s played at this level, so he needs a lot of games. But as a natural talent, he’s as good as it gets.
“He’s got that talent that you dream to have, he’s got the talent that anyone would pay for a ticket to watch him.”
Deulofeu lit up the Riverside Stadium with his individual contribution, but Martinez, who had him on loan from Barcelona two seasons ago and sees him every day in training, was not unduly surprised.
He said: “Unfortunately – or fortunately – I don’t get impressed because I see that every day. What I am impressed with is his maturity.
“Two years ago when we had him we knew he was a young man with an incredible natural talent. Now he’s not a young man anymore. He’s young in age, but very mature.
“He’s got a big role for us and he has been very consistent, which is very difficult for a wide player with that goalscoring threat, with that natural ability.
“It’s very difficult to find that consistency, and that’s probably the aspect that impressed me the most in Gerard Deulofeu’s performance.”