Equal Time: Did Everton overpay for Richarlison?
The long wait is finally over. After dragging feet, Everton has arrived at the transfer market in style. The Toffees lavished £50 million on Watford winger Richarlison two days ago. Is the Brazilian worth such megabucks?
The spending power of Premier League clubs is becoming quite frightening. Television rights coupled with ambitious investors has twisted heads of England's elites. They approach the transfer window like spoilt rich kids, ones who feel entitled to buy anything and everything.
Even among the richest, the extremely wealthy stand out. Everton joined that select group in 2016 when Farhad Moshiri touched down on Finch Farm. Merseyside's blue-clad half soon embarked on a shopping spree worth around £60 million. The following season, that figure was trebled.
Although Everton have been somewhat slothful thus far this summer, coughing up £50 million on a player is quite risky. Especially one who doesn't have experience at the very top level. Perhaps extreme desperation played a part. Or maybe, the Toffees were cajoled by Watford's insatiable desire for managerial compensation on Marco Silva.
Take nothing away from Richarlison, who is an exceptional talent. The 21-year-old gave a glimpse with a solid first stanza last season after joining from Fluminense. Unlike many of his compatriots, he adapted quickly to the English top flight. His direct style and notable flair set him apart.
Richarlison tallied a combined 10 goals and assists in the opening 15 league games. Unafraid of bringing the game to the opposition, he was a constant target for defenders. The Nova Venecia-born winger suffered more tackles than any player all campaign.
When it comes to work-rate and hunger, Richarlison always gives best. To the extent that he wept after being substituted against Chelsea in February.
Inconsistency is a grave cause for concern. Richarlison simply went off the boil in the season's latter stage. He lost all super-powers, resorting to cheap theatrics. As the goals dried up, the youngster became fragile, falling at the slightest touch.
However, Richarlison will add something quite unique to Everton. Attributes lacking at Goodison Park. Often deployed on the left wing, the Brazilian has pace, trickery and crossing ability to frighten all defences. Add extra motivation working with his former boss Silva, who coaxed the best out of him at Vicarage Road. The Portuguese's departure thoroughly affected his form.
Richarlison's arrival balances Everton's shaky attack. Silva is likely to use him in the same position. Theo Walcott and Yannick Bolasie, two very similar wingers, will compete to start on the right. Gylfi Sigurdsson, who was exiled to wide areas over the last 12 months, will get his chance in the middle behind Cenk Tosun.
Yet in truth, Richarlison isn't worth such a heavy outlay. Spending £50 million on an unproven player is clearly a big gamble. Half that fee is fair.
Not a ready-made fit in the mould of Romelu Lukaku or Wayne Rooney, Richarlison will need time to adapt to his new environment. Why throw out such cash on prospect rather than pedigree?
Everton fans don’t want potential. They want the absolutely first class player now, to play now to try and rival their big rivals down the road and try and get into Europe. So if you’re buying Richarlison as a future player, that’s not what Everton fans want to see. They want to see the team right up there fighting with the best and fighting for the top four.