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Analysing which club would benefit most from signing Richarlison

 • by Sam McGuire
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Richarlison has channeled his inner Harvey Dent this season, showing the Premier League the good, the bad and the ugly side of his game throughout his debut campaign in the English top flight.

The Watford forward hit the ground running and, at one point, looked like a rival to Mohamed Salah for the bargain of the season award after putting in a number of eye-catching performances following his £11.2million move to the Vicarage Road. However, his form has tailed off. He’s not found the back of the net since November and his last assist was in December.

Fortunately for the Brazilian, and unfortunately for his club, he made quite the impression early on and teams haven’t been put off by his showing in the second half of the season.

The 20-year-old was linked with a £40million move to Tottenham Hotspur in January and reports suggested Liverpool and Arsenal were keeping close tabs on the former Fluminense wonderkid.

Sky Sports News have claimed this week Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton are interested in the forward and all three plan to raid the Hornets in the summer. Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco are also believed to be in the race for Richarlison’s signature.

The Pozzo family want to keep hold of their prized asset but reports have implied the magic number will be in the region of £40million. A fee all of the linked clubs could comfortably afford.

But is the Watford No.11 really worth such an outlay? We’ve taken a detailed look.

What Richarlison does well

The Hornets, who sit in 12th position in the Premier League, have had what many would describe as a transitional season. Marco Silva was named as manager in the summer and looked to put his stamp on the team but his head was turned by Everton’s interest and he never really regained focus. He was dismissed and Javi Gracia replaced him in January.

Both managers may be from the Iberian Peninsula but their coaching styles differ and this, along with the fact the youngster has played so many minutes since 2017, has undoubtedly played a part in Richarlison’s struggles this term. It’s discussed in detail here.

He might be goalless since the turn of the year but he’s still getting himself into dangerous areas on a fairly regular basis, as highlighted in the graphic below.

His xG90 (expected goals per 90, based on where the shot was taken from) has the Brazilian finding himself in high quality positions which equate to an expected goal every three games. However, his goals per 90 stats shows he’s managing exactly half of that.

This could be down to his shot selection. Post-shot xG looks at where the shot went on target and this stat is in line with Richarlison’s goals per 90. When delving deeper it becomes clear that his erratic nature when in the penalty area is his biggest issue.

His shooting as reduced the quality of his chances by 47 per cent this season. This, however, shouldn’t be a concern for clubs interested in acquiring the forward. Post-shot xG will wildly vary from year to year and players become more consistent with age. The key thing to take away from this is the fact he manages to get into dangerous areas. The goals will come.

In terms of aerial duels won per 90, only 17 attackers in the Premier League can better his 3.88. He’s just inside the top 50 for attackers who have played over 650 minutes in the English top flight when it comes to dribbles, and he completes a good number of defensive actions, too, averaging 2.86 tackles and interceptions.

What’s most impressive is he’s managing to post these numbers while playing as a left forward for an inconsistent side. There’s a lot of potential there and the numbers paint a picture of a high-energy player who will put in a shift defensively and aid the team going forward.

So, which of the clubs that he’s been linked in would he suit?

Analysing potential destinations for Richarlison

Manchester United

If reports are to be believed, Anthony Martial could be leaving Old Trafford this summer.

The Frenchman has just one year remaining on his deal with the Red Devils and the arrival of Alexis Sánchez has forced him down José Mourinho’s pecking order. Atletico Madrid and Juventus are said to be the two teams most interested in signing the 22-year-old.

Martial

If he does depart when the season comes to an end then there could be an opening in the United squad. Though the Frenchman seems to have much more guile to his game, the Brazilian offers greater defensive protection, averaging over one tackle and interception more per 90 than his counterpart. It is something Mourinho would no doubt value.

It’s certainly a possibility but it might not be the best one if Richarlison wants to hone his offensive craft.

Chelsea

It could be a big summer for the 2016/17 Premier League champions with uncertainty surrounding the futures of Antonio Conte, Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard. It’s the latter whose future may tie-in with Richarlison’s.

If Hazard does make a move to Real Madrid then the Blues have a huge void to fill. It’s unlikely they’ll be able to find a like-for-like replacement and may instead opt to sign more of a team player, as opposed to the individualistic one that their No.10 is.

Very few can keep pace with the Belgian in terms of dribbles completed but Richarlison actually has a higher xG90. His signing would see a shift in how Chelsea look to attack but change isn’t always a bad thing.

Everton

The Toffees look set to be under new management in the summer but the same problems will plague them. They failed to replace Romelu Lukaku‘s goals and Yannick Bolasie, recently back from a long-term injury, hasn’t lived up to his price tag just yet. He’s creating higher quality chances than his Watford counterpart but he offers next to no goal threat and that’s what Everton need.

Whether Richarlison fancies a move to Goodison will hinge on who they appoint as Sam Allardyce’s successor. If they turn to a manager who looks to play football then it might be an ideal environment for the Brazilian youngster to flourish.

Tottenham

Mauricio Pochettino could help develop the Watford No.11 into one of the best in the Premier League. He’s done it with Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen, but all three flourished in roles they were undisputed starters in.

Richarlison would be battling it for a start with Heung-min Son, the South Korea international has been one of Tottenham’s best performers this season, Mr. Reliable.

Heung-Min Son of Tottenham Hotspur

The former Hamburg man bests the Brazilian in most categories but loses out when it comes to aerial duels. He could be viewed as a plan B to Son if they want to go more direct but without actually switching up the way they play too much.

Would Richarlison up sticks and move to a club he wouldn’t be guaranteed minutes at? Probably not.

Arsenal

The Gunners still haven’t replaced Sánchez on the left side of their attack. Just like with Hazard, Richarlison isn’t an identical replacement for the Chilean but there are some similarities between the two. Both have a knack of drifting into dangerous areas inside the penalty area, cutting in from the flank.

The former Arsenal No.7 was viewed as an elite chance-getter during his time at the Emirates and before his move to Old Trafford his xG90 was 0.41, not much higher than the 20-year-old Brazilian.

It shows that he’s talented enough to take up the mantle in north London and, if given the time to develop, he could fulfil his potential at the Emirates like many other forwards have.

Liverpool

The Reds have one of the best attacks in Europe with Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino leading the line – only Manchester City have scored more league goals than Jürgen Klopp’s charges.

It’s hard to envisage Richarlison getting in ahead of the trio but, as shown this season, the Liverpool boss likes to rotate to keep his explosive players fresh.

There’s a lack of attacking depth at Anfield and a player like Richarlison could fill in for all three players. His flexibility would give Liverpool a number of options and his xG+xA90 numbers aren’t too dissimilar to Mané’s (0.58) and Firmino’s (0.45), and that’s while playing for an inferior team.

If the Brazilian was to come into the Reds side, drop off in quality in the final third wouldn’t be as drastic as has been this season whenever Klopp hasn’t been able to field his favoured forward line.

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