A transfer story that broke on Friday afternoon was finally concluded on Tuesday evening, as Richarlison completed his £35m move (rising to £50m) from Watford to Everton.
The Brazilian attacking midfielder is reunited with Marco Silva, the manager responsible for bringing Richarlison to England a year ago while boss of the Hornets.
Everton’s first capture of the summer has signed a five-year deal with the club and this second link-up with Silva is significant for prospective Fantasy owners, as it was under the Portuguese manager that the young Brazilian played his best football at Watford and delivered significant attacking returns: 103 of his 125 FPL points were registered before Silva departed Vicarage Road following the 2-0 defeat to Leicester City in Gameweek 24.
There is clearly a lot of love between manager and player. Upon signing for the Toffees, Richarlison said:
I think it is going to be important for me here to be with Marco Silva again. I will learn more because I am still learning as a player and I aim to develop and grow here.
I’ve known the manager for a while obviously, so I know how he works. I developed really well with him while he was with me at Watford. It was really good working with him and one day I believe he can help me to be selected for Brazil in the full national team.
Silva meanwhile has now persuaded two boards to take a gamble on the player in less than 12 months. While for Watford the financial outlay was not as extortionate (just over £11m), the fee was a significant one for a player who was largely an unknown quantity at the time.
To convince Farhad Moshiri and co. to pay what could turn out to be over four times that fee just under a year later is indicative of Silva’s faith in the mercurial Brazilian.
Richarlison’s 2017/18 campaign was a season of contrasts. Bursting onto the scene in August following his summer move from Fluminense, the Brazilian winger scored on five occasions and registered as many assists in his first 13 appearances for Watford.
The 21-year-old winger’s excellent start to life in the Premier League mirrored his new club’s impressive early-season form, but the story after Gameweek 13 was one of frustration – particularly for the legions of Fantasy Premier League managers who drafted the mid-price midfielder (who started at £6.0m) into their squads.
In his final 25 appearances of the season, Richarlison’s sum attacking returns amounted to no goals and three assists. The tussle between Everton and Watford for Silva’s services last October appeared to have irreparably damaged the Hornets’ season but in truth, Richarlison’s own loss of form was as much down to fatigue as it was club unrest.
Starting this season with a minor price rise to £6.5m, Richarlison will have burnt his bridges with many a Fantasy manager after his finish to 2017/18.
The young attacking midfielder is a name worth considering again this season, however, particularly given the Toffees’ promising-looking start to the season. Everton play only one of last season’s top six in the first nine Gameweeks, a run of fixtures that includes home matches against Southampton, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United, Fulham and Crystal Palace.
Just two midfielders, Mohamed Salah and Christian Eriksen, had more attempts on goal than Richarlison (95) in 2017/18. Salah, Raheem Sterling and Wilfried Zaha – since reclassified as a forward – were the only players in Richarlison’s position to have more penalty box touches, meanwhile. Only three midfielders were deemed to have had more “big chances”, too.
Between Gameweeks 1 and 12 (when Richarlison scored all of his goals), the Brazilian ranked highest among midfielders for goal attempts and touches in the opposition area.
Richarlison had almost twice as many headed attempts on goal (24) as any other midfielder in 2017/18. While only one of those headed chances led to a goal, the Brazilian is a rare beast among wide players in that he offers a threat in the air from set-piece situations.
Richarlison also contested more aerial duels than any other FPL midfielder last season.
Everton’s gifted Brazilian looked fatigued towards the end of 2017/18 – and with good cause. Not only had Richarlison featured in all 38 of Watford’s Premier League matches last season, he also played 14 league fixtures and 22 other competitive matches for Fluminense immediately prior to his arrival at Vicarage Road.
With the Brazilian top-flight running from spring to winter, Richarlison had no summer break prior to his move to England in July 2017.
A well-earned rest this summer should help Richarlison’s cause this season and the enigmatic midfielder looked sprightly in Watford’s first pre-season friendly against Koln, setting up Andre Gray’s goal.
Richarlison was one of only four FPL midfielders to feature in all 38 of their club’s Premier League fixtures last season, starting 32 of those matches.
The Brazilian started every single Watford league fixture between Gameweeks 2 and 31, featuring as a substitute on five occasions in the last seven Gameweeks as fatigue (and a lack of form) well and truly set in.
Under Silva, though, Richarlison was a sure starter, even over the busy Christmas period. Having only used the Brazilian as a substitute in Gameweek 1, Silva was to never again rotate, rest or drop Richarlison until his tenure at Watford ended in January of this year.
Silva has shrewdly downplayed the signing, perhaps to alleviate the pressure on his multi-million-pound asset, describing Richarlison as “one more player who can help us” and talking up the competition for places in the Everton squad.
Given the pair’s history, however, and the money and faith invested by Silva in the 21-year-old over the last 12 months, we can be confident that rotation is an unlikely prospect in the first months of the season at least.
Richarlison’s ability to play across the front line – he featured on both flanks and through the middle for Watford last season – would also stand him in good stead.
Richarlison’s FPL ownership has almost doubled since Everton’s bid was lodged and the Brazilian now sits in 6.6% of Fantasy squads. Rested, reunited with a manager who venerates him and lining up against favourable opposition in the first quarter of the season, we can only hope his maddening loss of form in 2017/18 can quickly become a distant memory.
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