Brazilian forward Richarlison turned heads for Watford in the initial stages of last season, his first in the Premier League. While his form did not last the entirety of the campaign as his side began to sink down the table, his first few months in England’s top-flight suggested that the 21-year-old could one day play for one of the top clubs in Europe.
Richarlison undoubtedly needs first-team football to develop into one of the best players in the Premier League, which he would struggle to find if he moved to a bigger club. However, recent news from BBC Sport, a very reliable source, has suggested that it is highly likely that he is heading to Everton for a fee that could rise to a stunning £50 million sum.
Everton have never spent this great a figure on a player. Previous record-signing Gylfi Sigurðsson joined the club for £45 million in 2017, but he was a more known quantity than Richarlison, who has only shown his quality over one season in the league.
As such, the decision to lure the Watford forward to Goodison Park is trusting the fact that he will deliver upon his enormous potential in Merseyside, and perhaps be sold for an even greater sum in years to come.
Concerns about his consistency remain despite the fact that at Everton he will reunite with Marco Silva, the manager who brought the best out of him at Watford; he only scored five goals in the Premier League last season after struggling in light of the Portuguese manager’s departure.
Since selling Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United for £75 million a year ago, Everton have lacked a true talisman. They attempted to replace him with Wayne Rooney, who left for MLS after one season back at his boyhood club, the aforementioned Sigurðsson, an excellent creative player but not a significant supplier of goals, and Theo Walcott, who can make an impact but won’t match Lukaku’s productivity.
Signing a plethora of talented midfielders over the past two seasons, Everton are blessed with talent in the centre of the park, some of which they have failed to coax the best out of. Part of the reason for this was their lack of pace and penetration, which became a huge problem when Yannick Bolasie was facing a long-term injury. Much like the Lukaku conundrum, part of the problem has been solved by Walcott, but Everton will want to put the issue to bed through Richarlison.
Blessed with pace, nimble feet and a great right foot, Richarlison is also almost six feet tall, enabling him to play up top in the long term, or to remain in his left-sided role, with relative ease. This versatility will give Everton the choice as to whether direct winger Bolasie, or natural striker Cenk Tosun, who scored 5 goals in 14 appearances since joining in January, will join him and Walcott in spearheading Silva’s preferred 4-3-3 formation.
Leighton Baines and Séamus Coleman, Everton’s main fullbacks, are known for the attacking strength that they provide in wide areas. This will give both Walcott and Richarlison the freedom to move into the box and join the striker, adding another dimension to the attack.
While Bolasie is a direct, penetrative force from the wing, he often lacks end-product, which makes him a less than ideal starting option for a club that seeks to be one of the best in England. Richarlison not only suits the side better as an inside forward, but also allows Bolasie to be a tactical threat, used when needed against specific opposition.
The biggest struggling point regarding Richarlison’s transfer to Everton is undoubtedly the fee. Loval rivals Liverpool have signed of Xherdan Shaqiri for £13.2 million, highlighting that there are better players available at a fraction of the price. Shaqiri can cut inside, create and score out of nothing, and he will not be a starter at Liverpool.
While the Swiss international provides an instant solution to Liverpool in his area of the pitch, Everton have gambled on the idea that Richarlison has higher resale value and potential and that he could surpass the ability of their rivals’ new winger. It is a large gamble considering that the financial gap between these two signings could have been used to address Everton’s obvious need for a proven striker and improvements across the back four.
If Everton find the requisite funds to address other needs in the transfer market, it is difficult to argue with Richarlison’s signing. He will find plenty of football and development at his new club, and a platform of existing forwards who are already good enough to be successful in the Premier League.
Marco Silva is familiar with the player from his time at Watford and will know that Richarlison has the correct tactical mould to improve Everton as a side, as well as the potential to become one of the best players in the Premier League.
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