On the morning of July 1st, Tottenham Hotspur officially announced the signing of Richarlison on their social accounts; a post that felt like a gut punch to Evertonians everywhere. Years of reckless transfer spending, inflated wages, and little recuperation from sales meant that Everton were essentially strong-armed into selling their star man for up to £60 million in order to appease the Premier League’s profit & sustainability rules before the turn of the fiscal season on that Friday morning. With a fan favorite and crucial performer now into pastures new, the focus turns to who the Toffees can bring in to replace “O Pombo”.
What exactly have Everton lost?
Before we can discuss who may be able to fill the Richy-sized gap in the Everton team, we must first look at just how big that gap really is. Last season in the Premier League, Richarlison was the team’s leader in goals, assists, non-penalty goals, shots and shots on target, goal-creating actions, and touches in the opposition box, and was top 3 in many other categories as well. On top of that, his work rate was crucial, as he registered some of the best defensive stats among any forward in Europe’s Top 5 leagues.
So simply put, that Richarlison-sized gap is quite large, at least compared to the context of the current squad. Their underperformance is a necessary consideration when looking at Richarlison’s numbers last season; it was relatively easy for him to stand out amongst the dross. Fortunately, there are potentially available players who statistically produced at a higher level than the 25-year-old last season, and the healthy fee that Spurs were willing to cough up should help Frank Lampard fund the necessary replacement(s).
Let’s take a look at the two most rumored options:
1. Emmanuel Dennis, Watford
The 24-year-old Nigerian striker, currently on the books of recently relegated Watford, has quickly become the popular choice amongst Evertonians as a replacement, and for good reason. Despite featuring in a quite frankly pitiful Hornets side, the former Club Brugge talisman notched 10 non-penalty goals and 6 assists in 30 Premier League starts for the joint-second lowest-scoring club in the division. Like Richarlison, he also possesses enough versatility to play anywhere across the front three, having made 15 appearances at striker, 14 at left-wing, and 5 at right-wing this year. His attacking statistics from the last campaign look just as good if not better than Richarlison’s on paper, and his defensive work is also up there with the best.
In his recent article about Dennis, Lou Orns described him as a “very quick, high-volume dribbler... (who) likes to run at pace, slow down, and then commit the defender so he can shoot around them, mainly because he’s a very good finisher.” That sure sounds like a certain someone who just left Everton for Spurs. Orns’ claim about the Nigerian’s ruthlessness in front of goal is in fact backed up by the stats as well. In fact, Dennis has overperformed his non-penalty xG in 5 of the last 6 seasons, including the 2021/22 campaign in which his G-xG came in at +2.44, which would immediately place him top of the Everton squad and in the Top 15 in the league.
He is by far my favorite option I’ve seen linked with Everton this summer thus far, but there are yet to be any solid reports about even an approach from the Merseyside club, let alone negotiations or an agreement. This is a move that Lampard & co need to be jumping at, especially considering that a fee in the region of £20 million would likely be enough to pry the Nigerian out of Watford. Not only would he replace the vast majority of Richarlison’s input, but his affordability would leave funds for Thelwell to use towards improving the rest of the squad. The forward was left out Watford’s squad for the pre-season, as were a number of others expected to leave the Hornets, which leads us to believe that they are bracing for an incoming bid for the player.
2. Armando Broja, Chelsea
After a hot start to life on loan at Southampton last season, Albanian international Armando Broja saw his momentum fade away as the year went on. Thomas Tuchel seems unconvinced that the 20-year-old is deserving of a spot in the first-team at Stamford Bridge, and so clubs such as Everton and West Ham have begun inquiring about a potential acquisition. On Tuesday, David Ornstein and Greg O’Keefe, both of the Athletic, released an article outlining the Toffees’ interest in the young striker. Let’s see what he could bring to the table:
Immediately, Broja’s numbers arent nearly as impressive as Emmanuel Dennis’ nor Richarlison’s. His Southampton side finished slightly higher in the table than either of his counterparts’ clubs, yet he contributed by far the least of the three; just 6 goals without an assist in 32 appearances in Ralph Hassenhutl’s side. His final G-xG of -1 makes him statistically the worst finisher out of the three as well. However, he has proven to be proficient in aerial duels and also chipped in with a good amount of defensive work. He undoubtedly has plenty of talent and potential, as do most Cobham products these days.
I do believe Armando Broja will be a good player and would be a solid acquisition for Everton, but in my opinion, he is not what the club needs. He is an out-and-out center-forward, who, unlike Richarlison and Dennis, is not versatile and cannot be successfully employed on the wings.
Although a back-up to Dominic Calvert-Lewin is certainly something the Toffees could use, Broja will command a fee far too high for a player who does not make Lampard’s first XI stronger, and so unless the Everton manager chooses to switch to a two-striker formation, I personally don’t think this is the right signing to make at the moment.
A direct comparison of the trio using a number of different stats - attacking, defending, work rate, all pretty much reinforce the thought that Dennis is the closest we can come to a direct replacement for Richarlison, while Broja could be a solid back-up option for Calvert-Lewin should we be able to get him in on loan.
What are your thoughts on these two potential signings and who else should Thelwell and Lampard be targeting to replace Richarlison? Have your say down below!