Everton forward Richarlison has opened up on feeling more comfortable in Rafa Benitez’s system and how he keeps himself fit and healthy away from the pitch. The Blues star was missing for over a month after picking up an injury against Burnley in September, following a controversial challenge by James Tarkowski. However, the Brazil international came back to action on Saturday, coming off the bench to score against Watford – although he couldn’t prevent a collapse from his side late in the game. Richarlison has been playing as a striker for Benitez rather than playing from the flank, where both Carlo Ancelotti and Marco Silva utilised him in the past. And that’s where the 24-year-old believes he can produce his best football for the Blues.
Richarlison said: “With Rafa Benitez I’m playing more centrally, a position where I feel more comfortable. Playing centrally here and for Brazil is really important to me. I think everything is in place for me to score more goals in the Premier League, as I’ll be nearer the goal. Last season, I played in numerous positions, on the right and left. I scored the most goals when I played centrally. It’s my preferred position and playing there this season, I feel better and more confident and I hope to score many more goals. I’ll give my all to meet my personal targets.”
It’s hoped that Richarlison’s return can bring a change in fortunes up front, with Salomon Rondon having struggled to find the net in his appearances for the club so far. The Brazilian has talked with his teammate, however, and reassured him that the goals will come now that he is returning to the side to help.
Richarlison added: “It’s normal for attacking players to be under pressure because fans want to see goals. We’re prepared for everything and I’ve been chatting with Salomon Rondon and told him he’ll score more goals because I’m coming back, and I’ll help him as much as possible. Last season, we started really well and then the injuries started coming. We have been unfortunate again but I think the players coming in will rise to the occasion. We’ll fight and fight. The Premier League season is always complicated but we’ve started well. We’ll try to keep it up as there’s a long road ahead and we need to be focussed on every game.”
Richarlison’s latest injury has been a rare one, with the forward usually playing a lot of matches for both club and country over the course of a campaign. The Brazil international has opened up on his routine away from the pitch and how he puts in the extra effort to make sure he can play in every Everton game.
Richarlison explained: “I have a personal trainer at home who looks after me and we do additional work to recover faster. That’s why I’ve usually been able to play in every game. I look after myself off the pitch away from training. I’m still young and I want to play every weekend, every midweek fixture. I want to play in absolutely every Everton game. After matches, I watch back to identify what went right and wrong, this analysis is important. I have people around me who help me a lot. Psychologically, there’s always someone for me at home – my friend Reginaldo and my personal trainer – to talk to and spend the day with, which is really important.”
Richarlison played in two international tournaments over the summer, taking part in the Copa America before winning the Olympics with Brazil. The forward has admitted tat he pushed himself to the limit to ply in both competitions, but he was never in any doubt about his decision.
Richarlison said: “I pushed myself to the limit, I was exhausted at the Olympics. I didn’t train properly between the quarter-finals and the final. I was at my limit there and I went into it with my heart and soul and the desire to represent Brazil, and that’s why I managed to make it through to the final. In 2019 Juninho Paulista [Brazil team co-ordinator] asked me whether I wanted to play in the Olympics. I said yes straight away as it is a dream for anyone. When I was little at school the teacher would put the Olympics on for us. I said I wanted o be a part of the team and win the tournament. I was true to my word, I honoured the Brazil shirt and, thank God, I was an Olympic champion. I feel proud and privileged, as very few people have Olympic gold medals. I gave my everything and came back to Everton feeling good, I managed to recover for the start of the season. Unfortunately, this knee injury came along but everything will be fine and I can get back to giving my all for Everton.”
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