Were you to look at the form that Richarlison has displayed with the Brazilian national team, you’d imagine that he was coming off of a career-high season with his club team. The Brazilian did fine with Everton this year, yet might have performed better and more consistently, all things considered. His prior season, despite the completely unique nature of it with the COVID-19 stoppage, was perhaps more impressive.
The 24-year-old did not play well as a lone number nine, and when he was asked to do so, Everton did not look a winning side. When placed as a winger or second striker alongside Dominic Calvert-Lewin, though, we saw the form of the mercurial Brazilian shoot higher and higher by the minute. His 13 goals and three assists across all competitions wasn't terrible, yet it was no great step up from the season before.
There is little doubt that Richarlison is a famously talented player and that he will positively impact any side he plays in. Might there be doubt, however, about his desire to perform on Merseyside moving forward? Perhaps.
While I believe that the player is determined to win, I do believe that year after year of disappointment takes its toll upon even the more fiercely competitive and loyal of players. It must be asked simply, in other words, how loyal and dedicated is Richarlison to Everton, and how loyal and dedicated are Everton to Richarlison?
Richarlison: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?
This is a real make-or-break year for a number of Everton’s players. Richarlison is crucial to them right now and as is obvious by watching Brazil, all that is needed to elevate him is greater quality around him. Without it, he can become frustrated, yet with it, he can put on a real show.
While Richarlison will not want to stay at a club finishing tenth and 12th for much longer, neither might the likes of Calvert-Lewin or Lucas Digne, who is widely seen as the best left-back in the Premier League. Can they be blamed?
A good, proper and consistent managerial tenure is necessary on Merseyside, as is a winning mentality, and the feeling that Carlo Ancelotti left in the stomachs of the players and supporters will have to be healed by a strong leader moving forward. Whether that is Duncan Ferguson, Rafa Benitez, Nuno Espirito Santo, Graham Potter or Antonio Conte, the ground under which the Toffees perform will have to be steadied to allow real progress to occur.
Should that progress be made, it’s reasonable to imagine these players would be interested in staying longer with Everton. Should it not occur, however, the problem will have to be remedied before the players all decide to walk on their own. This, for the most talented players in the squad, is a crucial season without question, then. Yet should Everton even wait so long?
While the sales of Everton’s fringe players would net a decent sum, the addition of Richarlison to it could really afford the Toffees a spending spree. Yet even so, how much business can truly be done across one summer? Better yet, would that all produce a team that has a better chance at success than last year’s outfit did?
This is no easy question to answer, of course. It is hard to say that, after selling a whole bunch of unnecessary players to add to the talent around Richarlison, Digne and Calvert-Lewin, the team would not be better than were they to have to look for a replacement for Richarlison as well. Granted, they’d have the money to search for quality at all levels of their preferred shape, but can they replace the supreme quality of Richarlison? No, they cannot.
Whoever will come to Everton will surely wish to keep their biggest and brightest weapons on Merseyside and together as well, and so it would be in the best interests of the club to try to keep Richarlison and add to the team around him, in the hopes that his summer form with Brazil carries over upon his return to a hopefully revamped Toffee side.
It’s easy to look at Richarlison shining for Brazil and wonder why we don't get to see that player week in, week out for Everton. I would simply advise caution, as the Blues are not Brazil; and we must simply trust the process and work towards putting our best players around the best players that we can manage to bring onto Merseyside.
Richarlison was once one of those young men, taken from Watford, who the club saw great potential within. Now, he must see the great potential within us and determine that he does wish to be a part of Everton’s ascension himself.