Richarlison – Everton’s kite flyer

It is easy to pinpoint what is so exciting about watching Richarlison at Everton, this is top level football after all.

It can be romantic and rewarding, cutthroat and ruthless in equal measure, but the romanticism of Stanley Matthews playing at a club like Blackpool is long dead. Richarlison lighting up Goodison Park this season is the epitome of novel.

Fans are not used to seeing Brazilian players dubbed ‘the next big thing’ playing outside the top four, and to witness it so far this season has been a delight.

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Since signing for Watford in 2017, Richarlison has defied the odds. Growing up amongst poverty, a life of crime never drew him in.

He once had a gun held to his temple by a drug dealer who suspected the teenager of trying to encroach on his territory. Richarlison saw many friends end up in prison.

On another life changing day, he spent all his money on a bus ticket for football trial at America-MG in Belo Horizonte some 500km away. It was to be his lucky day.

The man from Vila Rubia is not Brazilian in the classic sense. While in Brazil, football may be as much performance as sport, Richarlison is an attacker who uses his tricks and skills sparingly.

The Brazilian relies on power, aerial ability, direct running and great bursts of acceleration. Seeing Richarlison at Everton this season has been reminiscent of another Evertonian, Wayne Rooney.

His Premier League debut for Watford came at Vicarage Road against Liverpool. Undaunted by the opposition, Richarlison put in an impressive debut performance and had a hand in one of Watford’s goals.

In his next game against Bournemouth, he claimed a goal of his own.

Watford are not a big spending club, yet spent £11.5m on a ‘flash’ Brazilian. Maybe its classic jingoism, but the British always back the work rate their own over South Americans.

Richarlison proved the critics wrong. Form is temporary, and while Richarlison’s form dipped as the season progressed, his work rate was ever-present.

Possessing a great turn of pace, Richarlison injects life into a team. The Brazilian is suited to a pressing system and his harrying from the front is tenacious.

On Sunday against Arsenal, Richarlison forced Petr Cech into a number of saves to keep Everton at bay.

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Richarlison made his first start for Brazil at the start of the month against El Salvador and scored two, while also winning a penalty that was converted by Neymar.

The Brazilian National Team will bring its own plaudits, but also additional pressure and cautionary tales for Richarlison to abide.

Following phenomenal individual performances in the 1997 Copa America and Confederations Cup, Denilson moved to Real Betis in Spain for a world record £21.5 million.

He was ‘the next big thing’ of his era. The powerfully built Brazilian was little more than an impact substitute at the 1998 World Cup and this set the tone for his spell in Spain.

Denilson never reached the heights expected of him and the similarities of the early part of his career to that of Denilson’s are already obvious.

It’s probably true that Richarlison might not have moved to Everton for £50 million (£40 million plus add ons) this summer without his Watford manager Marco Silva first leading the way.

Silva’s faith in Richarlison was a key component in Everton’s willingness to spend big on the Brazilian. The Portuguese has bet big on Richarlison.

At Everton, Silva has adapted his use of Richarlison, who now plays closer to goal. Richarlison scored twice on his Everton debut at the Molineux.

While the first was a scrappy finish, the second was poised and delicate, using a defender to disguise his true intentions before guiding the ball past the goalkeeper’s far post.

That goal was reminiscent of Rooney in his prime and Everton fans began to believe they again had true potential on their hands.

But ultimately, Wayne Rooney left Everton when Manchester United were interested.

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They might have succumbed to a 2-0 loss to Arsenal at the weekend, but Everton fans were heartened by Richarlison, who returned after serving a ban for his sending off against Bournemouth.

The prospect of potentially watching Richarlison become a top tier talent at Everton could be one of the Premier League’s most exciting storylines. As neutrals, we should hope that Richarlison thrives at Goodison Park.

Winning the Premier League is a target far beyond Everton Football Club, but a top level Brazilian international among their number would inspire fear in opposition teams, and give Everton reasons for optimism in every single fixture.

Richarlison told FourFourTwo last year of his fondness for returning to Brazil, to his hometown of Vila Rubia and flying his kites in his local park.

A simple, beautiful image, one of the world’s most up and coming footballers returning to his roots and remembering what is important.

We can hope that during one of his kite flying sessions that it might occur to Richarlison that an adoring fan base and a positive football environment are among the most important aspects of world football, and definitely worth appreciating.

Is it asking too much that the Brazilian might defy the odds yet again, and unlike Wayne Rooney once upon a time, reward Everton for their faith in him by staying at Goodison Park, rejecting the advances of bigger teams should they come calling?

Author Details

Aidan Boland
Aidan Boland

Irish Primary School Teacher living in Tipperary with a big interest in sports. Contributor to United We Stand. Main interests include Premier League and Bundesliga along with Golf and NFL (specifically New England Patriots).

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