Rafa Benitez will rely on Richarlison to make his controversial appointment as Everton boss easier to digest for the faithful of Goodison Park.
Everton’s decision to hire Benitez as their new manager earlier this summer was met with a vitriol by much of the club’s fan base, as he enjoys legendary status with the red half of Merseyside and fierce rivals Liverpool.
The Spaniard knows he will have a rough start in the city where he has had so much success, but one way to win over those who resist him so fiercely is simply to get results.
Rafa Benitez (right) needs Richarlison (left) to shine in his debut season with Everton manager
Richarlison celebrates after his goal against Saudi Arabia at Wednesday’s Olympics
For some, that won’t be enough, but at least it’s a start.
Even under the much-adored Carlo Ancelotti, results and performances were patchy, leaving the club in 10th place before Real Madrid called in and tempted him back to the Spanish capital.
While Dominic Calvert-Lewin had his best season in front of goal, scoring 21 goals in 39 appearances, Richarlison went missing for much of the season and enjoyed minor patches, scoring just seven goals in 34 Premier League appearances.
The 24-year-old has since been linked with a reunion with Ancelotti at the Bernabeu, whom the Brazilian described in March as a “complete striker”.
Former Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti (left) reportedly wants to bring Richarlison to Real Madrid
The 24-year-old struggled to maintain good form last season when Everton finished 10th
He met the bill last week after scoring a superb 23-minute first-half hat-trick against Germany at the Olympics – becoming the first Premier League player ever to score a treble at the Games.
Then, on Wednesday, he scored a brace as Brazil advanced to the quarter-finals of the men’s Olympic tournament with a 3-1 win over Saudi Arabia.
But none of this would have been possible without Benitez’s help.
After a grueling Premier League season, in which he represented Brazil at the Copa America a few weeks later – a competition Brazil would lose in the final – Richarlison admitted to arguing with the Everton hierarchy over allowing from him to go to Tokyo to play even more football at the Olympics.
His involvement with Japan would make him miss the start of the new campaign, predictably causing the Everton chiefs to deny him his wish.
But because the chance to play in the Olympics didn’t come around very often, Richarlison revealed that he sought Benitez’s help to make sure he got what he wanted.
Since then, he has shone in the Olympics and scored a hat-trick in his first game
Richarlison became the first Premier League player to score a hat-trick at the Games
Benitez helped persuade Everton to let their striker leave and join Tokyo 2020
The Everton striker nodded his side up against Saudi Arabia in Wednesday’s game
“I had a fight there, didn’t I?” Richardson gave in. “I’ve been arguing with Everton all day, with the director. I also called the new coach.
“It’s very important for me to have this experience, to mature because it’s going to be important to me.”
With Real’s threat looming and a highly regarded striker unsupported, Benitez stepped in and helped persuade his new club to let him go to Tokyo and represent his country.
And after taking control of what could have been an uneasy summer situation, Benitez has asked Richarlison to return the favor once he returns from the Olympics later this summer.
“I was in touch with him, he had the Olympics in mind, we had to resolve his situation and he is fine,” Benitez told the BBC. the official website of the club.
“He’s happy because he can go there… and he knows he has to give us something back because we supported him.
Benitez says striker must return Everton a favor after granting his Olympic wish
‘That [not being involved at the start of the season] could be something we don’t love at the beginning but it will be a huge boost for us in the rest of the season because he will try to perform.”
Should Richarlison return to Merseyside happy and with a gold medal in his pocket, it could well be a masterstroke by Benitez in a season when he will need it badly.
By having Richarlison sacked alongside Calvert-Lewin and Co, the Spanish boss will certainly help improve Ancelotti’s finish in his first season at Goodison Park.
And while it will be almost a miracle for Everton fans to forget Benitez’ ‘small club’ comments and Liverpool’s past, it will certainly be a good start to have this Toffees squad sing from the same anthem sheet.
Getting the Brazilian striker fired will allow Benitez to unite the Toffees fanbase over time