It doesn’t take long to prove Paul Merson wrong but Richarlison has done it in record time. Two games for Everton and a debut for Brazil have already made the pundit look a little foolish once again.
When Everton paid £35 million for the Brazilian’s services earlier this summer there was more than one eyebrow raised. Merson’s were among them. He, though, took it one step further. Stood atop his Sky Sports branded soapbox, he declared that it was Richarlison’s move that ‘spoiled’ the transfer window. A a strange notionat the time and considering some of the other deals done by other clubs. No eyebrows were raised at West Ham paying £34 million for Felipe Anderson.Nor were questions asked about Liverpool’s £40 million signing of Fabinho or Manchester United paying £53 million for Fred. All three were untested in the Premier League yet seen as good signings. Richarlison, somehow, was not as far as Merson was concerned. Of the four, only the Brazilian has done anything of note early in the campaign.
While the other three have been anonymous Richarlison is becoming a favourite at Everton. There are those who will tell you his lofty price tag was a bargain. That notion goes beyond what he does on the pitch, although that has been notable early on.
Two goals on his debut against Wolves set both the bar and expectations high. His first was a simple tap-in but the second showed the ability he has at his disposal. A cultured, curling finish into the bottom corner it evoked memories of the way Thierry Henry used to do it on a regular basis. That was a comparison more than one pundit made in the analysis.
Another goal the week after, this time a towering header in the win over Southampton, made it three goals in two games and a perfect start. Already Merson was receiving plenty of messages on social media. Even before the game, his tone changed dramatically. In previewing the fixture, Merson claimed if Richarlison was fit he was backing the Blues. An early indication that the former Arsenal man knows he got this one wrong.
That feeling will have grown over the international break as he watched the forward flourish for Brazil. Two goals in a 5-0 win over El Salvador, one a superb curling effort into the top corner, meant Richarlison was in the headlines once again. Already the press was asking him about potential moves to Real Madrid and Barcelona. That is a clear sign of how Richarlison has already won over the doubters. Twitter had a field day when it came to Merson.
Early on the Brazilian had declared his dream was to get into the Brazil team. This debut was him taking the opportunity with both hands. Here he was on the main stage, flourishing alongside Neymar and co. Tite will have been impressed, even if it was against limited opponents.
For Everton, though, it is not just the goals that are making Richarlison’s price tag look a solid investment. While they are welcome, especially for a team that struggled in that department last season, it goes beyond that. The Brazilian has added much-needed pace and flair to a forward line that was devoid of both last season. Richarlison is the kind of footballer that fans love to watch and makes the price of admission worth it. The fact he is also a player who is all energy, willing to track back and close down only help his cause.
This fan base fell out of love with a group of players that looked like they did not want to be there and were unwilling to fight for the shirt last season, Richarlison is rebuilding the love. Even if he weren’t scoring, those fans would appreciate the effort at least. It is the least they expect from a millionaire footballer.
Fortunately, Richarlison is doing more than that. He’s scoring goals, creating chances and has almost singlehandedly improved Everton’s forward line. It is noticeable how they struggled without him in the 1-1 draw with Huddersfield Town. Already he has established himself as a key player in the team.
For the Goodison Park faithful, he is already a favourite. They know a player when they see one and Richarlison has already won them over. £35 million was an absolute bargain as far as they are concerned. Even if it rises to £50 million, they’ll still be pleased. Paul Merson can put firmly in the ‘wish I never said’ folder.
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