When Watford spent in excess of £11m on a relatively unknown 20 year old Brazilian named Richarlison from Fluminense a fair few eyebrows were raised, but what can Watford fans and the rest of the Premier League expect from the talented youngster?
Richarlison broke through at Brazilian Serie B club America Mineiro – making his debut on the 4th July 2015, aged 18 against fellow Serie B team Mogi Mirim. He instantly excelled scoring 9 goals in just 21 starts (averaging a goal every 204 minutes) helping America Mineiro finish in 4th place and alongside it promotion.
His breakout season quickly attracted attention from bigger clubs and he signed with Serie A side Fluminense in December 2015, less than 6 months after his professional debut. His debut season in Brazil proved to be a hit with Richarlison starting 18 games for a total of 28 appearances in the league, where he scored 4 goals.
However, it was the 2017 season in which Richarlison began to attract attention from clubs around Europe, where he played a total of 2973 minutes in all competitions, netting a great return of 15 goals that culminated in a call up to the Brazil U20 squad for the Sudamericano U20 tournament. Brazil were disappointing and didn’t make it through to the U20 World Cup, but Richarlison impressed onlookers by netting 2 goals during the tournament.
The European elite were now watching with both Chelsea and Ajax apparently both keen on the youngster, but it was Watford that eventually landed him with the promise of immediate first team football and fellow Portuguese speaker Marco Silva helping to eliminate the language barrier proving to be icing on the cake.
Style of Play
Richarlison is capable of playing either up front or on either wing and is blessed with incredible pace. He has a good technique that he combines with his blistering pace to devastating effect – creating a signature move of annihilating an offside trap with pace, then a good touch to set himself up for the finish. The first clip below also shows how good Richarlison is at timing his runs, combining perfectly with the aforementioned pace and technique to make him a formidable opponent.
In the clip below watch right at the start of the video as he slightly drifts wider away from the full-back to give himself space, before quickly realising that he can win the foot-race and accelerating past the full-back.
Another interesting aspect to his game which certainly would’ve appealed to Marco Silva is his work-rate and desire to win the ball. He never stops running or trying to win the ball, which for a winger so young is a pretty rare trait, seen by the incredible run and tackle below
However as to be expected in someone so young, Richarlison is still incredibly raw and is far from the finished product, however moving to Europe will only help him improve although hopefully the Premier League isn’t too a big of a step up for him.
Analysis of his debut against Liverpool
Richarlison was able to get his debut on the opening day of the season as Roberto Pereyra limped off injured after 49 minutes and almost got a golden chance less than 30 seconds after coming on but just strayed offside.
He quickly showed a willingness and a level of game intelligence that I wasn’t prepared for, in the first clip below we see him rapidly push wide and make a solid tackle to stop Trent Alexander-Arnold the ball in a good position, whilst in the second clip we see him back out of the press cutting off the passing lane to the right which would’ve left Alexander-Arnold in plenty of space.
He continued to give Alexander-Arnold a tough game, drawing the Liverpool youngster into earning a yellow card by using his pace to just get ahead of the right-back, forcing the challenge.
At every opportunity, he looked to give the ball to a team-mate and immediately make a run behind the defence using his rapid pace.
Due to the nature of the game, Richarlison didn’t get much of a chance to try to run with the ball at the Liverpool defence, but he approached it with confidence and technique that when he plays against weaker teams and in a one on one situation, I’m confident he’ll cause defenders trouble.
Richarlison topped off a solid debut by creating Miguel Britos’s injury time equaliser, with his shot forcing Mignolet to parry the ball straight into the path of Britos to head home from less than a yard out.
An assured debut that showed willingness, work-rate, pace and raw talent. It looks like Watford have uncovered an unpolished diamond that I’m certain will give defences over the course of the season plenty to think about. An exciting talent.