Bernard: The perfect fit for Everton
It's not every day a Brazilian international's signing goes under the radar. It happened in August on the blue half of Merseyside.
The summer's biggest transfer story burst when Everton paid £50 million for Richarlison. With all eyes firmly on the 21-year-old, Bernard's arrival met a more muted welcome in keeping with his transfer fee.
Following five seasons playing in Ukraine with Shakhtar Donetsk, the 26-year-old moved to Goodison Park on a free. Despite failing to grab the headlines, the 5' 5" forward represents a major coup for Marco Silva. While a different player with a different physique, Bernard is a significant upgrade on Yannick Bolasie. Boasting 14 Canarinha caps and plenty of Champions League experience to boot, it's little wonder the Blues boss faced intense competition to secure his signature.
Given his pedigree, Silva could have thrown Bernard into the deep end. Instead, the Portuguese opted for a more conservative approach. Prior to his move, the Brazilian hadn't seen action since March. Limited to cameo roles in the opening weeks, he was handed his first start in the 2-1 away win over Leicester City. The forward put in a memorable display, providing an assist from his favoured left-wing role. All the tricks, creativity and unpredictably associated with South American football was on show. The Foxes struggled to contain the new man throughout the 90.
Praising a player’s performance over a post-match pint isn't enough for today’s football fan. When the newly coined, albeit unoriginal, chant of “Bernard, Bernard will tear you apart again,” echoed around the King Power Stadium, cult hero status among the Everton faithful was achieved after just 160 minutes on the pitch.
It'll take more than one impressive outing for the diminutive winger to stamp his mark in the Premier League although early signs point towards a successful future in England’s top tier. Silva had to be pleased at how effortlessly Bernard slotted into the attacking four. In turn, fans must anticipate more samba style to entertain them throughout the campaign.
Seeing Bernard fire on all cylinders gives further pleasure to football purists who love the technical side. It can only please Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson, as well. The pair will have another friend to play with and more space to operate as defenders discover they must keep an eye on the wee man, too.
The £50 million Brazilian wore the No.9 for the first time against Leicester. He scored the opener. With four goals to his name already, expect Silva to continue using the youngster to lead the line.
The Icelandic playmaker also enjoyed a prosperous start to the season. He's starting to justify his £40 million fee. In his preferred role behind Richarlison, Gylfi should continue to flourish. the 29-year-old won't be asked to man the left flank as long as Bernard maintains his early form.
Everton's revolution remains in the primitive stages. Pieces are still missing. Bernard fits in perfectly, however. For now, that suits everyone.