Did media speculation cause Richarlison's dip in form at Waford?
Earlier this season, Watford fired manager Marco Silva, alleging his head had been turned by Everton during their search to replace Ronald Koeman. Richarlison started his debut season under Silva in fantastic form, scoring and creating eight goals in his first 13 Premier League appearances. The 20-year-old’s performance led to interest from Chelsea and Tottenham. He hasn’t scored a league goal for the Hornets since. New boss Javi Gracia has taken to substituting the Brazilian on a regular basis.
Understand, the club isn't making the same allegations with coach and player. I'm just wondering. Has the transfer speculation affected Richarlison’s form?
The former Fluminense winger took to the Premier League like Boris Johnson to a gust of wind, scoring in his second domestic appearance to help Watford beat Bournemouth on August 19. No player on the pitch created more than his four chances. Only Watford’s Kiko Femenia made more dribbles.
A week later, Richarlison ran rings around Brighton & Hove Albion, making more dribbles (3) than any other player. His ability to beat his opponent and create chances for his teammates saw him light up the top flight in the season's first three months. He contributed a goal every 137 minutes through November. But it didn’t last.
Turn your head for just a moment and the form goes
Richarlison may have been guilty of believing the hype, assuming he’d already earned a big-money move to a Premier League giant after three months. He was being linked with the defending Premier League champions and the runners-up. Could the rumours have affected his form? Might Silva have discussed following him to Everton? Purely speculative on my part, but possible.
The 20-year-old hasn’t scored a goal in the league since netting against West Ham United in a 2-0 win on November 19. He has just two assists in his last 19 appearances. Richarlison’s craft and creativity have disappeared. The youngster hasn't impacted a game since December. He’s failed to create a chance in eight of his last 10 league appearances while making just two dribbles in his previous five outings. Richarlison’s struggles coincided with Watford’s poor run, one win in 12, but he hasn’t improved since their results picked up.
The winger’s style could be to blame. The youngster is highly industrious. He's brilliant at turning over possession, averaging a tackle or interception every 32 minutes. In addition, he racks up a high number of sprints. He’s played in every game for Watford this season, 2556 minutes from a possible 2790. Young players must learn to pace themselves. Richarlison goes all out all the time.
Covering so much ground in games and playing each week can have its toll, especially for a player unfamiliar with the league's demanding pace. Richarlison may need a rest. He’s a fit player but the Premier League is robust and relentless.
Despite the downturn, Watford’s industrious winger continues to be linked with a move to a bigger club. He’d be better off staying at Vicarage Road for at least one more season. Only 20, he needs time to develop before he is in position to play regularly for a side like Chelsea or Tottenham.
Richarlison isn’t going to dethrone Eden Hazard or Willian in the Chelsea side. Nor would he start ahead of Son Heung-Min for Tottenham. He is guaranteed regular game time at Watford. You must play to improve.