Why Richarlison's positional switch could solve Everton's problems
Questions were raised why Everton splashed major cash to bring Richarlison to Merseyside. I think it's fair to say those doubts have already been quashed.
The talented Brazilian, who is only 21, has already struck four times in his six outings for The Toffees. Three of those goals came while playing on the left-hand side of the attack. However, Marco Silva has recently taken the decision to play Richarlison through the middle as the out-and-out striker. His bold tactical switch has already paid dividends as the £50million man scored the opener during Everton's 2-1 victory away at Leicester City. He has since been handed international caps, although he has some huge shoes to fill.
I want to preface this argument by stating that Everton haven't been struggling to find the onion bag. Their explosive wide men, coupled with the brilliantly talented Gylfi Sigurdsson sitting just in-behind the striker, have been doing damage aplenty. Their issue comes with Cenk Tosun's inability to finish. The Turk has scored just once in five league starts, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been equally as goal-shy; with one strike to his name thus far.
Playing Richarlison through the middle is sheer genius. Not only is he their best finisher, but the former Watford man is multi-functional. He can hold the ball up pretty well, while also having the pace to run beyond the opposing defenders. He's the ultimate Swiss army knife due to his ability to hurt you in a variety of different ways. In that regard, Tosun is somewhat one-dimensional. He's at his best when the ball is at his feet with his back to goal.
When you've got someone who can hurt your opponent in different ways, it keeps defenders on their toes. I refer back to Tosun, again. His markers can afford to play him tight, he's hardly going to spin in behind and beat them with pace. If you stop Tosun's hold-up ability, you blunt the Everton attack. With Richarlison, his man has to be far more switched on. He can stretch the defender, forcing them to sit deeper, which in turn, creates space for the likes of Theo Walcott and the aforementioned Sigurdsson. It was the latter who took full advantage of that last time out, as he scored a sublime goal to help Everton to all three points.
Richarlison is not the only beneficiary. Many had forgotten about Bernard's summer arrival. The former Shakhtar Donetsk attacker is an extremely clever individual. As he adapts to Premier League football, his brilliance will begin to show. His best position? left-midfield; a position he'd never occupy unless his Brazilian compatriot wasn't shifted to the point of the attack. He has two assists in his last two outings. Expect his creative juices to get flowing with increased playing time.
I guess the only knock on Richarlison is the disciplinary issues. He's young, the red card he picked up against AFC Bournemouth was easily avoidable. He'll (hopefully) learn from it and never get himself involved in that sort of situation again. Aside from that, though, the young man has been truly electric to start the season. Now playing directly through the middle, I'd expect his overall contribution will only increase.
The good thing for Silva is that he has a deep squad. Richarlison's versatility could be key to any continental hopes that they have. If he continues to develop and grow, Everton have a real star of the future on their hands.