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Marco Silva and Richarlison prepare for Watford reunion with Everton
Marco Silva knows how to get the best out of Richarlison
Last Updated: 10/12/18 2:17pm
Marco Silva and his protégé Richarlison will come up against their former club when Everton host Watford on Monday Night Football. From Vicarage Road to Goodison Park, here's why they are a perfect match.
Marco Silva had not yet taken over as Watford manager when he first became aware of an exciting young prospect in Brazil named Richarlison. The 41-year-old was in no position to sign him at the time, but it only took one viewing to convince him that if the opportunity ever arose, he would do everything in his power to make it happen.
"My feeling since the first moment I saw him in Brazil was that he is a player with a very good profile to play here in the Premier League," Silva told Sky Sports in an interview at Everton's training ground in October. "Of course some of the Brazilian players sometimes have some problems and difficulties to adapt quickly here, but Richarlison had a different profile."
Silva loved Richarlison's speed, directness and technical ability, but he was just as struck by his fearlessness and work ethic. "He is strong and he is not scared about challenges," he added. "I saw someone who could score goals easily in the three attacking positions, but who also worked hard to help his team-mates in the defensive process."
It was for those reasons that, in the summer of 2017, soon after his appointment at Vicarage Road, Silva phoned Richarlison personally to convince him to choose Watford over Ajax. Silva felt the £11.5m fee paid to Brazilian side Fluminense represented value for money. A year later, he had no qualms about paying four times as much to take him to Everton.
Silva's boldness has been rewarded on both occasions.
At Watford, Richarlison was the Premier League's breakout star in the early months of the campaign, coming off the bench to help the Hornets clinch a 3-3 draw with Liverpool on the opening day before going on to contribute five goals and three assists in his first 12 starts. There were moments of brilliance, and, just as Silva predicted, there was intensity off the ball, too.
Watford's season unravelled after that, with Richarlison's form heading the same way as he struggled under Javi Gracia, but his reunion with Silva on Merseyside has reinvigorated him. The price-tag seemed steep for a player who had not scored a Premier League goal since November, but Richarlison is already justifying the expense.
Wednesday's equaliser against Newcastle was his seventh goal of the season, making him Everton's top scorer and putting him level with Chelsea's Eden Hazard. He started the campaign on the left - just as he did at Watford - but he has been equally impressive in an unfamiliar central striking role. There have even been three goals in six games for Brazil.
His close-range finish against Newcastle was the difference between a defeat and a draw, and it was not the first time one of his goals has proved invaluable. In fact, they have won eight points for Silva's side so far - more than a third of their total and the third-most by any Premier League player behind Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Brighton's Glenn Murray.
Silva knows how to unlock Richarlison's potential and the statistics prove it. It is no coincidence that in 37 Premier League games with the Portuguese as his manager, he has hit 12 goals and provided four assists, but in 14 games without him, he has not scored or assisted once.
It owes a lot to Silva's personal touch. Richarlison described him as a "father figure" when he signed for Everton back in July, and there was even praise for him after his sacking at Watford in January last season. "He helped me a lot at the start," he told Sky Sports in February. "He is Portuguese so it was easy to communicate. He could explain things to me as I was adapting."
Richarlison seemed lost without his mentor in the second half of last season but he has been instrumental in implementing Silva's philosophy at Everton. In the space of just a few months, the style has been overhauled and it has not gone unnoticed. Ahead of the Merseyside derby, Jurgen Klopp described Everton as a "completely different" side to last season.
Everton's intensity and aggressive high-pressing are the biggest differences. According to Opta, they rank among the Premier League's top sides for distance covered this season and have won possession in the attacking third more nearly 20 times more (96) than any of their rivals despite having a game in hand.
Richarlison has led the charge, demonstrating the selflessness and dedication that attracted Silva to him in the first place. According to Opta, he ranks among their top five players for high turnovers, tackles and high-intensity sprints.
Everton will hope for more of the same against Watford on Monday night. And from Vicarage Road to Goodison Park, it would be fitting for Silva and Richarlison's relationship to continue to bear fruit against the side where it all began.
Watch Everton v Watford live on Sky Sports Premier League HD from 7pm on Monday Night Football
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