The summer of 2018 was an uncertain one for Everton. Having limped to the end of the season under Sam Allardyce, the club were faced with some difficult decisions on how to move forward. One option was to continue with the old dinosaur in charge, and continue to wallow in midtable obscurity, destined to play miserably defensive football until the rafters at Goodison Park buckled with boredom.
Luckily the Board chose to not perish in that manner and appointed Marcel Brands and Marco Silva, and the pair made a statement signing right off the bat. The Blues shelled out somewhere between £35 million and £50 million—depending on who you’re asking—for Brazilian youngster Richarlison and then sat back and watched the uproar that followed.
Pundits, analysts, critics and fans alike recoiled in horror at the large wad of cash Everton sent Watford FC’s way for the forward, but Richarlison went about setting the record straight all season long as he plundered 14 goals for the Blues en route to making his Brazil debut and even scoring for the Seleção in the Copa America Final.
However, speaking to Goal in an exclusive interview, the 21-year-old hasn’t forgotten the weight that large transfer fee put on his shoulders.
“There was a lot of criticism and negativity about the value of my transfer fee. And like it or not, it was a gamble from the club.
“The press were on top of me a little bit. I remember one guy [Paul Merson] said that I had ruined the transfer window, but he doesn’t know me as a player or a person, and even though we try to focus on training and playing, these things do get to us.
“Thankfully, it didn’t hold me back and I had a good season. I kept my fitness good, my mind was good and I had a good finish to the season. It was here at Everton that I broke into the Brazilian national squad.”
Both Richarlison and Silva have commented on the father-son relationship the pair share, and the forward hasn’t forgotten that the Portuguese manager plucked him from obscurity to give him a chance in the Premier League not so long ago, thereby setting in motion a huge change in his fortunes.
“Marco is the coach I have worked with most in my career, and we get on really well. He’s there for me, we trust each other. We did that at Watford and now at Everton.
“He relates really well to the group, to all of the players. I’m really happy here, not just with him but with the whole of the coaching staff. The whole team is happy, and that makes us a strong collective unit.”
The Blues finished the season strong but still ended up in 8th again, having endured a miserable slump in the middle of the season when they couldn’t buy a win no matter what. However, another strong showing in the summer transfer window hasn’t escaped the players and they are dreaming of better things this season.
“We dream of a place in the Europa League or the Champions League. So bringing in these quality players increases our chances. They will make us stronger, and we will fight to meet these objectives.”
Everton play their homeopener on Saturday as they welcome his former side the Hornets. Richarlison seems to take a genuine joy in playing at Goodison, and is often seen signing autographs and taking pictures with young fans well after the matches are over.
“For us playing at home is an extra joy. That’s what it was like last season, we beat some big clubs and I think it will be the same this season.
“When you are waiting in the tunnel and you hear that siren, that alarm, your hairs stand on end. You can smell blood and you go onto the pitch really excited and driven to perform for those supporters.”
Here’s looking forward to a bigger and better season for Richarlison this year!