Alan Shearer has argued that on the evidence of Richarlison’s performance against Serbia, it is clear that the Tottenham man is better suited to playing as a number nine rather than out wide.
Richarlison has led the line impressively for Brazil over the last 12 months and he proved the difference once again for the Selecao in their World Cup opener on Thursday, netting both goals in their 2-0 win.
The Tottenham man reacted sharply to turn home the first on 62 minutes after Vinicius Junior’s shot was parried away by the goalkeeper. He then produced a moment of fantastically quality 11 minutes later by converting with an overhead kick to double his side’s lead.
Richarlison has primarily been used as a wide player by Antonio Conte at Spurs since he arrived in the summer (or as a ‘ten’ in a 3-4-3 as the Italian refers to the role).
While Shearer acknowledged that the 25-year-old is not going to start ahead of Harry Kane centrally, he suggested that the former Everton man has the natural goalscorer’s instinct to thrive in the role.
The Newcastle legend said on BBC’s coverage of Brazil’s clash against Serbia (24/11/22 BBC One – from 21:00 onwards as relayed by Football.London): “When you look at his goals tonight it’s very hard to argue against that [he is not a natural No.9]. His finishing and his timing was absolutely perfect.
“He’s not going to play that role at Spurs very often whilst Harry Kane’s there and Harry’s fit, but the manager obviously has great faith and belief in him, because as you [Gary Lineker] said before the game, he smells of goals. The manager’s words were that. That’s now nine in his last 11 appearances so he’s a good talent.
“His goals were very different [to each other]. The first one was a poacher’s goal, that kind of goal which gives me as much satisfaction as seeing the incredible volley with his second one, but he’s a man in form in that yellow shirt. Yet to score in the Premier League for Spurs this season but for Brazil, he seems on fire.”
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One of the reasons that I am convinced that Tottenham are not going to be in the market for a centre-forward in January is precisely because Richarlison is more than good enough to operate as a number nine if Kane gets injured or needs a rest.
That is why I believe that Conte is likely to prioritise singing an out-and-out winger in January, potentially someone who is comfortable playing on the right.
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