Spurs have finally signed a forward who can compete with and provide cover for the likes of Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son, as Richarlison joins the club for a reported £60 million fee (The Guardian).
However, there are some who can’t understand the move…
Kane, Son, and Dejan Kulusevski proved to be one of the most formidable forward lines in the league last season, with the trio delivering a combined 45 goals and 26 assists (Transfermarkt). So, why the need for Richarlison?
The answer is very simple – Antonio Conte wants to compete at the highest level, and to do that, you need squad depth. Richarlison provides exactly that, but he is not here to simply warm the bench, as some suspect.
In fact, there is no limit to the success Richarlison can achieve at Tottenham Hotspur. You only have to look at the manner in which Diogo Jota has excelled since joining Liverpool from Wolves, to see that great players always find a way.
Jota was a very good player in a very average team at Wolves. Liverpool boasted a front three of Mo Salah, Sadio Mané, and Roberto Firmino, so when Jota made the move to Anfield, there were many who assumed he would be a bench warmer, too.
That’s not how the top teams work though. When you’re challenging domestically and continentally, and are hungry for top honours like Conte is, you need more than just a good first 11 – you basically need a first 22.
Despite intense competition for places, Jota played 55 games for Liverpool last season (including 35 appearances in the league), scoring 21 goals and providing eight assists (Transfermarkt). Not too shabby for a backup player.
The Portuguese attacker can play anywhere across a front three, often operating in the left channel or through the middle. Richarlison will take on a similar role at Spurs, with his versatility believed to be a key factor in Conte’s desire to bring him in (Telegraph).
Richarlison will need to prove himself, of course. It’s not going to be easy to dislodge any of the Spurs attackers who were so prolific in the back-end of last season, but if anyone can do it, Richarlison can.
The Brazilian is the definition of a mentality monster; hungry, aggressive, and relentless. In a struggling Everton side last season, he never stopped fighting, and is a large part of the reason the Toffees stayed up.
His endless energy allows Richarlison to perform brilliantly as a pressing forward, never giving his opponents a moment’s peace. His positional play is solid too, and when he gets a chance on goal, he generally takes it.
Richarlison’s expected goals per 90 versus actual goals per 90 last season matched up exactly (The Athletic), resulting in ten goals, in addition to five assists. This, in an Everton team creating far less chances than Tottenham are likely to in the upcoming campaign.
Looking back at Jota’s last full season with Wolves, he managed 16 goals in 48 games, with six assists to boot (Transfermarkt). Solid numbers, but not as impressive as his tally for Liverpool last term. Far from being a bench-warmer, Jota is playing more often, and producing more goals.
There’s no reason why Richarlison can’t come into a highly productive Spurs team and enjoy a similar trajectory. This is a man who worked his socks off for years at Goodison Park and delivered as much as can be expected from a player in that kind of set-up.
Whether from the bench, or as part of the starting line up, Richarlison has all the ingredients to flourish at Spurs. So, for those who are confused by this signing, just sit back and enjoy the show.
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