Gerard Deulofeu will reportedly have the final say on whether he returns to Barcelona from Everton this summer, but the player himself will only agree to the move if he's given assurances as to his playing time.
According to Sport's Lluis Miguelsanz, Deulofeu intends to rejoin the Blaugrana, but before agreeing to it, he wants guarantees that he will "be in the first team and not used as a money-making operation."
Per Miguelsanz, Deulofeu's camp will be holding talks with Barca "in the coming weeks" after El Clasico on April 23, and the player's role in the squad will be negotiated along with financial terms.
Barcelona technical secretary Robert Fernandez told TV3 (h/t Football-Espana.net) the club planned to activate his €12 million buy-back clause: "Deulofeu? Yes, he's absolutely an option for the future. Definitely."
The winger—who can play on either flank or centrally—struggled at Goodison Park in the first half of the season and was subsequently loaned to AC Milan in January.
Deulofeu has shone in his brief time with the Rossoneri and accrued two goals and three assists in 12 Serie A appearances.
BeIN Sports' Matteo Bonetti hailed his form for Milan and performance in Saturday's Derby della Madonnina:
Matteo Bonetti @TheCalcioGuy
Incredible turnaround in Deulofeu's career since playing for a manager who believes in him. Has been Milan's top performer since January.2017-4-15 19:43:49
Matteo Bonetti @TheCalcioGuy
Gazzetta named Deulofeu Milan's top performer in derby. Impossible to mark his pace. Should've scored had it not been for Handanovic miracle2017-4-15 19:44:50
Squawka Football provided the numbers behind his strong outing:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Gerard Deulofeu's game by numbers vs. Inter: 100% aerial duels won 6 take-ons 3 tackles won 3 shots Solid shift. ⚡️ https://t.co/2YFcLn18mY2017-4-15 12:46:45
The pacey winger can be a real handful for defences thanks to his impressive dribbling skills and creativity, though he could perhaps benefit from scoring more goals.
Though he only made six senior appearances for the club, his knowledge and experience of Barcelona's philosophy also makes him an excellent candidate to reinforce the squad.
As noted by Yahoo Sport's Andrew Gaffney, the low cost involved is also a strong incentive:
Andrew Gaffney @GaffneyVLC
@DavidAmoyal Story seems to have picked up a lot of pace recently. Bit like with Denis Suarez last summer, Deulofeu's low price makes it a no brainer.2017-4-15 12:01:59
Denis Suarez has made 34 appearances in all competitions for Barca this season, though he has only spent 1,687 minutes on the pitch and completed five matches.
Deulofeu could well be handed a similar role, so he will need to decide if that is sufficient for him to return—if not, he could stay at Everton or potentially join Milan permanently, while Miguelsanz noted he has also attracted interest from Napoli and Inter Milan.
The Argentinian's ability to play in defence or midfield makes him a valuable squad player for Barcelona, but he'll be 33 in the summer. Letting him leave could help fund the recruitment of a new, younger asset.