Leighton Baines heaped praise on Everton debutant Richarlison after the winger’s double earned the Blues a 2-2 draw at Wolverhampton yesterday.
The 21-year-old, a reported £40+ million summer signing from Watford, put the Toffees ahead twice at Molineux, first with a close-range finish on 17 minutes and again midway through the second half with a wonderful individual effort, finding the far corner from an acute angle.
Aside from his goals, the wide man, whose name was sung throughout the match by 3,000 travelling Evertonians, impressed many with his high energy and application, not least his new team-mate Baines.
“He has been magnificent since he came in. He’s a really, really good player.
“He has great work rate, a great attitude - everything you want from a footballer. His ability is unquestionable and I’m so excited to play with him and watch him play.”
Despite only joining the club three weeks ago, Richarlison seemed to have developed an excellent understanding down the left flank with Baines in their first competitive game together. Blues will have been reminded of Baines’ glory days with Steven Pienaar in front of him, and we can expect much more to come this season. The defender went on to emphasise after the match just how much he enjoyed playing with him.
“He’s such an amazing signing for the football club and I’m chuffed to have him. He does it all - there’s nothing that he doesn’t do. He has strength, he’s got pace, he’s got skill. He can find a pass and he can score a goal. I honestly couldn’t compliment him enough - he’s brilliant.
“The manager said that he wanted competition in every position and we have got that here. You can see that on a daily basis and what that brings to the intensity of training. It will serve us well throughout the course of the season.”
After a pre-season strewn with disappointing results- the Blues won just one of seven friendlies - many could have been forgiven for expecting a far less encouraging opening performance from Everton.
But, having led twice and wasting numerous other goalscoring opportunites, a positive first day was ultimately tinged with disappointment for Baines.
“It was a very tough game. We knew visiting a newly-promoted side that it was going to be tough. We started the game pretty well and knew that Wolves are a good side in possession. We expected high energy and they produced that.
“For a period it looked like we’d get the win but unfortunately we conceded an equaliser. On reflection, people might say it was probably a fair result but we had a couple of opportunities with 10 men, so we are disappointed not to come away with the win.
“All in all, we go back to Goodison for our first home game and if we win that, it’s not too bad.”
A decent start to the season considering the circumstances yesterday, but it’s looking positive and fans will be hopeful for the future.