When news came out at the start of the offseason that Tottenham Hotspur were investing a £150m capital increase into the club, it gave the impression that Spurs were going to make a few different purchases at larger values in order to truly “go for it” under Antonio Conte. At the start of the transfer window, Spurs did quick and easy business by bringing in two players who could start right away in Ivan Perišić and Yves Bissouma, while also adding backup keeper Fraser Forster to help the club’s homegrown quota.
Since the announcement of Bissouma’s signing, all has gone a bit quiet on the transfer front. All summer, the “big-money move” many have speculated has been the prospect of adding a top-tier left-sided centerback such as Inter’s Alessandro Bastoni or, more recently, Joško Gvardiol from Leipzig. Despite the quiet couple of weeks for Spurs, the truth is that this upcoming week is going to be extremely vital, with many clubs looking to balance out their books and offset sums ahead of the end of the fiscal year on July 1 and to comply with the ‘strict’ Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules. Such is the case for Everton and the potential situation they find themselves in regarding Richarlison.
For what seems like a couple of weeks now, Spurs’ biggest rumors have been related to Brazilians Richarlison and Leeds’ Raphinha, the idea being that Spurs need to add an additional attacker to replace Steven Bergwijn. There were clamors here and there regarding Gabriel Jesus, but Alasdair Gold reported that Spurs’ interest in the former Man City man was never very advanced. Despite transfer stories drying up recently, Spurs’ interest in Richarlison, more so than Raphinha, has increased and there are plenty of reasons why.
While many Spurs supporters will be put off by the player due to his weighty price tag and his “pest-like” playing style he developed against opposing fans over the years, the truth is that Richarlison checks a lot of boxes for Spurs and Conte. There has been talk that Spurs should be looking at proven players in order to take that next step and level up against more of England’s elites. However, the focus should be more on what Conte requires for his squad going into next season. That may not be the same thing.
Richarlison is a player that can operate in a variety of positions and excels in many facets of the game. He is a dangerous 1 vs. 1 dribbler, giving him the ability to play either on the wing or as part of Conte’s makeshift dual 10s in the 3-4-3 shape. He is a direct player who creates good angles, offers exceptional work rate and can play in behind or off on his own. At Everton, he was often strike-partnered with Dominic Calvert-Lewin. When the latter was injured or sidelined, Richarlison was more than capable to fill in, playing as a goal poacher. He also excelled in a left wing role due to his dangerous ability on the flank. We talk a lot about speed versus fluidity and how in a Conte side, the Italian much prefers the latter. Conte prefers his players to play under control and do the simple things asked of them. That is why a player like Dejan Kulusevski, who most would not deem to be a speedster, operated so well and effectively in a well-oiled Conte side that quickly adjusted to his patterns and ideas as the season went on.
Richarlison is more than capable in that he can not only play within tight spaces and draw opposition players to him, but he is also a quick thinker who has the ability to make correct decisions, whether that is by making the right pass or knowing when to make the right run. At times, he may look like he is playing at a million miles a minute, but I think a lot of that is due to the number of things Everton asked of him, especially last season. Richarlison never leaves defenders feeling comfortable and steady. He is constantly making runs and creating danger across the field.
While Everton as a club has experienced somewhat of a decline in the league in recent seasons, Richarlison has excelled despite playing for multiple managers and in in plenty of different styles. This past season alone, the Toffees were an absolute mess under Rafa Benitez and for most of their time under Frank Lampard. They were able to right the ship in the end in large part due to Richarlison and the impact he provided in the tail-end of the season. Despite the various injuries and player decline at Everton this past season, Richarlison was sometimes a one-man show for a club who offered little in terms of service or creativity around him. While goals and assists are not everything, his tally of ten goals and five assists in just 30 games is eye-opening when you consider the options around him.
It is not just at the club level where Richarlison has gained more and more confident. He is now becoming an effective option in the national team, in a side consisting of many world-class level players. While Raphinha may (arguably) be the more talented player, Richarlison is a far better fit for Spurs and the way they want to play and the profile they are hoping to fill.
Ahead of July 1 , Everton are almost certainly likely to sell some of their players. Richarlison is likely their biggest one, but you have to remember that Spurs and Everton have done business as recently as the January window when Dele went to Merseyside in a transfer where a lot of the details were not documented. Everton are seemingly fans of Harry Winks so there is the idea of a potential player-plus-cash deal. More recently as of Monday, Spurs’ interest circulated in Anthony Gordon — one of Everton’s top youngsters who, like Richarlison, played well last season being in a squad that was in a difficult place. Because they need to offset some funds ahead of the new fiscal year, it should also be mentioned that Everton are likely to sell Richarlison in a deal where the fee in return is to be less than £40m. This is due to a clause inserted by Watford where Everton would have to return 10 percent of their Richarlison earnings to the Hornets if a deal were to be completed above the threshold of £40m.
So while Spurs supporters may not see this deal as a world-beating one, not every big transfer is going to hit. Tanguy Ndombele came in with a huge transfer fee in 2019 and Spurs, only three seasons later, are now begging to offload him. Romelu Lukaku is another example where sometimes transfers just do not work out. And while the price tag may be considered high, this is something close to the going rate for a striker/high-level attacker in this market and in this day of age. Richarlison is a Premier League-proven player who can perfectly complement Spurs’ attackers while giving Conte a ton of versatility. It would also provide Spurs with another proven goal contributor to go along with the big three they currently have in Harry Kane, Heung-min Son and Kulusevski.
As mentioned before, Richarlison is the right type of profile and offers the raw tools to be a perfect fit at Spurs. He opened a lot of eyes last season being Everton’s most important players and did so surrounded by players that were of lesser quality to him. By coming to Spurs, he would come into a much-better environment surrounded by players that would match his capability. Think of the Diogo Jota transfer when his game took maybe two steps up when he made the move to Liverpool from Wolves.
In recent days, Chelsea, seen as a rival for Richarlison’s signature, have seemed to up their interest in Raheem Sterling, potentially indicating Spurs progressing in their talks with the Brazilian forward. By dealing for Richarlison, Spurs could make way for one of their expected outgoings (Winks) while bringing in a player that would be a perfect fit. Richarlison is certainly not a perfect player, but he doesn’t have to be, and he is the type of player that would generate a lot of excitement paired with the players Spurs employ around him. It would not be seen as the transfer of the summer, but Richarlison’s potential fit at Spurs gives me a positive feeling that we could look back at this transfer later in the year and think how good of business it was. Richarlison to Spurs is just too much of a no-brainer for me.
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