New boys, key men

Arsenal and Everton will hope to be in the fight for major honours with the signings of Cech and Deulofeu

Roberto Martinez's Everton lacked attacking prowess last season but the signing of Gerard Deulofeu may change that.
Roberto Martinez's Everton lacked attacking prowess last season but the signing of Gerard Deulofeu may change that. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

One is a no-nonsense goalkeeper in the last leg of his career. The other, a flamboyant attacker looking to make a name for himself.

There are few, if any, similarities between Petr Cech and Gerard Deulofeu. But with the kick-off to an all important English Premier League season just under a month away, the pair are regarded as key players to help their new teams make a breakthrough this season.

And it will start in Singapore as the pair arrived with both Arsenal and Everton yesterday ahead of the Barclays Asia Trophy, which kicks off tomorrow.

Everton new-boy Deulofeu is back with the Toffees for a second spell, this time on a permanent basis after a £4.2 million (S$8.8 million) move from Barcelona.

The 21-year-old tricky winger, who spent the 2013-14 season on loan at Goodison Park, joins English midfielder Tom Cleverley as Everton manager Roberto Martinez's new signings this summer.

And with Deulofeu's exploits still fresh in many Evertonian's minds - he scored three goals in 25 appearances on loan at Everton including a super strike against Arsenal - Martinez is looking forward to working with a special player.

"That unique talent that he has as a player, it is something that you want to pay money to watch a player like that on the pitch," said the coach yesterday at the JetQuay CIP terminal at Changi Airport upon arrival in Singapore.

Deulofeu would bring much needed attacking strength to an Everton team who struggled offensively in the first half of the season.

The Toffees spent most of the season towards the end of the table although they would eventually finish the season 11th.

Martinez will be looking to harness the talents of a player who was touted as one of Spain's top prospects after scoring 27 goals in two seasons with Barcelona's B team.

"The work ahead is looking forward to developing him and making him more aware of his responsibilities on the pitch and allow him to use his talent as well because when he does that, he is quite unique and quite special," said Martinez.

For Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, he scored one of the major coups of the summer when he signed Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech from London rivals Chelsea.

The Frenchman believes the 33-year-old can provide the defensive nous to improve his side even further. "I believe that (Cech) provides many guarantees at the start, to give us his talent and experience, his knowledge at the top of the game," he said.

Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta added: "He's (Cech) very good, he's been training really well.

"He's not here just to sit on his back, he wants to compete and he wants to keep winning."

Arsenal may have won the FA Cup and Community Shield last season but, for many, a team of their calibre should be challenging for more major silverware.

And in a season where many believe Arsenal are the strongest in years, the manager is adamant he will keep his best at the club.

Downplaying rumours that have linked German playmaker Mesut Oezil with a move to Italy, Wenger said: "Oezil is our player, he will remain our player and he wants to remain our player. He had a difficult start last year and, second part of the season, he was very important.

"He has improved his defensive attitude and he works hard offensively, a top-class player."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2015, with the headline 'New boys, key men'. Subscribe