When Richarlison first came to Everton from Watford, there was a lot of discussion about the fee, and even claims from Paul Merson that the transfer had “spoiled the window”. Many neutrals, not just Evertonians, treated this statement with contempt, having witnessed transfers – such as that involving Paul Pogba to Manchester United in 2016 – being completed for far more exorbitant sums.
Though the Brazilian is only a few games into his Everton career, Merson’s words appear cheap. With three goals to his name in as many appearances, the Toffees fans are already beginning to forget about the exact price that brought him to Merseyside. Thus far, he has mixed up his skill with a terrific work rate in both attack and defence, particularly in his blistering debut in the season opener at Wolves.
The ‘good’ will win out
His moment of madness – in a 2-2 draw at Bournemouth – aside, the Brazilian has excited the Goodison crowd, and when he returns from that suspension, he will be expected to hit the ground running once again. His performances have earned him a first call-up to the national team, and with Richarlison now also commanding newly-shortened odds of 100/1 in Premier League betting markets for the top scorer of 2018/19, nobody can deny that it is a deserved reward.
Richarlison’s form underlines the belief held by some that certain players can only resonate with a certain manager. It seems like much more than a coincidence, when one considers how quickly his form dipped after Watford dispensed of Marco Silva’s services in the winter of 2017/18. With Richarlison well on course to at least double his tally of five goals in forty-one games for Watford, the question remains as to whether he can do what a certain Egyptian did on the other side of Stanley Park last season.
In the Premier League era, the record season tally for a designated wide player at Everton is sixteen. Andrei Kanchelskis struck that immense tally in 1995/96, as Everton finished sixth – which stood as the club’s best finish for nine years thereafter. The sixth-place finish was sealed in the penultimate game of that season, which proved to be Kanchelskis’ best performance in the royal… grey:
Digne/Richarlison key to the magic figure
Perhaps the man who comes closest to emulating the Russian is Steven Pienaar, who terrorised defences in his prime. Much of Pienaar’s ability to threaten defences goal-side was down to Leighton Baines also being at his peak. If Richarlison is to thrust Mo Salah back into obscurity, Marco Silva could certainly do worse than to focus on making the Lucas Digne/Richarlison partnership the most non-negotiable element of the starting XI.
In terms of getting twenty league goals, though, that is something which is going to be very hard to achieve. Even the great Eden Hazard has been unable able to do it for Chelsea, So too have the likes of Ryan Giggs and David Beckham, even during their peak years around the new millennium, when United went practically unopposed to the Premier League title.
For this season, fifteen Richarlison goals would be a great – and far more realistic – achievement. The money that Everton spent on him already looks like a wise investment. His work in defence and with his teammates has earned him a lot of love, as has his interaction with the fans. There is little doubt there will be plenty more assists and goals to come as well