Everton boss Marco Silva has revealed that he had a change of heart over the role Richarlison would play in his plans mid-way through last season, but the Portuguese’s call has already paid out for the Blues.
In quotes reported by the Liverpool Echo, Silva confirmed that when he lured the Brazilian away from Watford in a potential club record £50million deal, he intended to utilise Richarlison on the left of his attack.
However, results dictated that he moved the 22-year-old into the centre to replace Cenk Tosun, and the call worked out at first with Richarlison striking the back of the net against Leicester City, Brighton & Hove Albion, the Hornets and Burnley.
But it soon became clear that the role was not where the 5 ft 8 ace would offer the most to the Toffees, even though it is where he would like to play, and Richarlison returned to the flanks – playing ten of the last eleven Premier League games on the right-hand side.
Silva now intends to keep the 13-cap star on the wings for the foreseeable future, although he is open-minded to the prospect of deploying Richarlison elsewhere.
“Let’s see during the season,” the boss noted. “Last season, I started with the same feeling when I signed Richarlison – even if I know he can play in the three positions in the attack line.
“I was thinking more about him on the left or the right – more on the left if I am honest with you – but we adapted him on the right, and he did really well and, [on] the other winger, did well also.
“When he was a striker, he scored important goals for us. But when we decided to put him as a striker, in that period, it was possible Dominic [Calvert-Lewin] and Cenk were not at their best. And so I am here to find different solutions, but in this moment I am looking at him more as a winger.”
While Silva is open to returning Richarlison to his more preferred centre-forward role, the Brazilian’s statistics from last season – according to WhoScored – show that the boss would be right in keeping the 22-year-old on the right.
Across his 35 outings in the Premier League (32 starts, thrice off the bench), Richarlison made 14 appearances on the left, 14 as our centre-forward, and 13 from the right – returning six, five, and four goals respectively.
His chance creation was the best on the right, though, with an average of 3.6 shots per ninety minutes, compared to 3.2 on the left and 2.3 in the middle. The Nova Venecia-born star also played more key balls from the right with an average 0.9, compared to 0.8 on the left and 0.4 at striker.
Richarlison completed more dribbles when fielded on the right flank with 1.5 from 2.5 attempts, as well, compared to 1.4 from 3.5 on the left and 1.2 from 2.4 in the middle, and offered greater defensive support with 2.2 tackles and 0.8 interceptions on the right to 1.9 and 0.5 respectively on the left.