In an exclusive interview, Carlo Ancelotti sets Richarlison a goal target for next term. Watch Everton vs Bournemouth live on Sky Sports Golf on Sunday from 3pm; Kick off 4pm
Saturday 25 July 2020 14:53, UK
Carlo Ancelotti has set Richarlison a target of 30 goals next season in a bid to transform Everton into genuine European contenders.
The Brazil forward's 13 goals and three assists account for 37 per cent of Everton's overall Premier League goals this season - the seventh highest single contributor of a team's league goals this term.
Speaking to the club this week, Richarlison outlined his aim to surpass the 20-goal mark next campaign and discussed the ambition of Everton under the leadership of Ancelotti.
The player was linked with a move to Barcelona in January, but the Everton manager acknowledges if the club are to cement their ambitions to return to European qualification next season, the 23-year-old will play a vital part - and he should not put a ceiling of 20 goals on his limit.
"I think Richarlison is wrong to say that the target will be 20," Ancelotti told Sky Sports. "The target doesn't have to be 20 for him. It should as a minimum be 30.
"I've had strikers that were able to score 60 goals in a season - it doesn't matter the name [Cristiano Ronaldo scored 61 goals in all competitions for Real Madrid in 2014/15].
"But even in England, Didier Drogba scored 29 goals in one Premier League season alone. So the target for Richarlison will be 30 - not 20."
Everton's final Premier League game of the season will be shown live on Sky Sports Golf, but Ancelotti is focused on playing the long game at Goodison Park.
The Blues are guaranteed to finish outside of the top 10 for only the third time in 14 seasons, while they could still be leapfrogged by Southampton and pushed out to 12th - a position that would be the club's worst since 2004.
Everton have won on just five occasions away from home this term, all by a one-goal margin, and Ancelotti admitted: "At home, we've done well since I've been here. Where we need to improve, and the players know, is away from Goodison.
"We were not good enough and this is the step we need to take next season. We need to show a better knowledge and have a better identity.
"The key factor will be the continuity in the sense that we cannot be allowed to play one good game and then two that aren't good enough. It shouldn't matter if it's a home or an away game."
The outlook was very bleak when Ancelotti took charge of the club for the first time on Boxing Day last year, with the side four points outside of the relegation zone.
Duncan Ferguson provided the Italian with a base during a run of league games that looked hazardous before Christmas, but the team's 4-4-2 formation that had been in place since the Scot's temporary period in charge had begun to look slightly one-dimensional.
Ancelotti dispensed with the system to end a four-game winless run at Sheffield United, reverting to playing Gylfi Sigurdsson in his preferred No 10 position, and the Italian is happy to have the option of manoeuvring his midfield to get the best outcome for the team.
"Gylfi is used to playing there and he did well," Ancelotti continued. "He gave us more opportunities but it didn't change the idea that we had before in terms of wanting to have the ball, building up and playing between the lines.
"We showed fantastic spirit against Sheffield United and we showed more quality in the game. We've always been looking for better ways to play in the final third, but Gylfi certainly did well on Monday because he's used to playing there.
"It can certainly be a possibility for the future but I don't want to have an ideal shape. I like having the possibility to change - it depends on the opposition."
Everton have collected back-to-back wins on three occasions under Ancelotti with Sunday offering the chance of a fourth, but the side have never strung together three victories on the bounce all season, and it is the lack of consistency that Ancelotti will look to address in his shortened summer window.
In the last home game against Aston Villa, only one of Everton's nine attempts on goal was on target while the team created just eight opportunities against their relegation-threatened opponents - with most of those coming in the final 10 minutes.
Ancelotti has frequently called on his players to be "cold in front of goal" and his team meetings in the lead up to their most recent encounter last Monday were centred around being more clinical in the final third.
This time, only two of five attempts at goal were on target, but it was enough to secure all three points. The most pleasing aspect for Ancelotti was the attitude and application from his players against a side who were still harbouring Europa League aspirations.
A different challenge awaits on Sunday against Bournemouth, who must win to stand any chance of survival. But having failed to beat Villa earlier this month, Ancelotti will want his players to show no mercy in his bid to preserve his unbeaten home record since taking charge.
"They will be really motivated as this is the last chance that they have," he said, looking ahead to the final game of the season. "They will expend all their energy at Goodison Park, which is absolutely normal in these circumstances.
"We would like to show what we've seen in our last game - a good attitude, a good style of football, to have a good control of the game and of course to win."
Across 2019/20, Bournemouth have faced the fourth-highest number of shots in the division (546) while only Norwich and Aston Villa have conceded more than their 64 goals.
While all the pressure will be on Eddie Howe's side to find only a ninth league win of the campaign, Everton have their own issues to be concerned with and will look to go into the new season with momentum intact.
After 419 appearances and 32 goals across 13 season, Everton stalwart Leighton Baines could be featuring for the final time in a matchday squad, and when asked about the left-back's future at Goodison, Ancelotti reiterated the ball is firmly in Baines' court.
"The best man to provide an update on this situation is Leighton Baines, to say something," he added. "If it is to be Leighton's last game against Bournemouth, we will be happy to say thanks to him. If it isn't to be his last game, we'll be happy to have him next season."
The most pleasing aspect of the past fortnight has been the emergence of Jarrad Branthwaite as a defensive option considering the recent injuries to Mason Holgate and Yerry Mina.
The young Cumbrian has made a rapid ascent since his £1m arrival from Carlisle in January on a two-and-a-half-year deal. He seized his opportunity on his full debut against the Blades having been used off the bench at Wolves and against Aston Villa.
Branthwaite pointed to the club's track record of developing young players for its first team as being instrumental in his decision to move to Merseyside, and the 18-year-old has left both Ancelotti and director of football Marcel Brands with a decision to make given the level of his performance.
The centre-back is set to make his first Premier League start at Goodison, and Ancelotti hopes the youngster can mark the occasion with another composed display to take into the curtailed off-season.
"I was really impressed by his performance, his attitude and the capacity he showed to manage the pressure of starting a game with us in the Premier League. He's really young but he's really focused. Everyone at the club is really impressed by him."
Ancelotti has never shied away from offering youngsters the opportunity to experience being part of the senior fold with Ellis Simms, the 19-year-old prolific at youth-team level, promoted to the bench in the last encounter due to an injury to Moise Kean.
Club supporters will have observed how the Italian has included 20-year-old goalkeeper Joao Virginia among his list of substitutes despite also having Maarten Stekelenburg named in reserve.
"It's good to give Joao some matchday experience," Ancelotti revealed. "It's also helpful I find to have two goalkeepers for the warm-ups. Above all, when we play away this also helps us avoid problems if there is an injury to the first or second option."
Another stoic defensive performance would send Everton into the summer break with a renewed belief that the size of the task facing Ancelotti is not a complete overhaul but an "evolution", as he referenced in Friday's press conference.
A few astute additions can lead to significant improvement - but Ancelotti will take time to recharge his batteries before embarking on the next campaign.
The Premier League revealed on Friday the 2020/21 season will start on September 12 and run until May 23, 2021.
Reflecting on how Everton will approach the quick turnaround, he said: "I've not got plans yet but for sure, I'm going on holiday to some place - I don't know where - but not for long because the season will restart soon.
"We haven't decided yet if we will take the team away before the start of the new season but the fact that we've not got a lot of time means that I think we're gong to decide to stay here at Finch Farm."
The mid-table dwellers, the recently survived, and those languishing just outside the European places still have something tangible to play for: cold, hard cash.
Though the Premier League are yet to confirm the prize money on offer for every place in the final table, in recent seasons the difference between each place has been roughly £2m.
For context, that's the equivalent to 100,000 fans buying a £20 match ticket, or roughly two Jamie Vardys when he signed for Leicester back in 2012. Every little helps!