Carlo Ancelotti could take James Rodriguez to a new level with a slight tactical tweak after he explained why Richarlison never plays in his favoured position for Everton.
That’s according to the Liverpool Echo, who quote the Toffees boss as believing Richarlison is not best suited to playing through the middle of his attack, despite the Brazilian’s desires.
Ancelotti insists the forward has never requested to be played as a centre-forward and that is happy to work from the wing, but the £50m former Watford star prefers a No.9 role and he operates as the focal point for his national side.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is Ancelotti’s go-to striker at Goodison Park, though he has fielded the forward beside Richarlison previously.
But a change in system has seen Richarlison be shifted to the wing, making 17 of his 25 appearances across all competitions this season from the left, and he will continue to be played there in normal circumstances.
“I think he [Richarlison] cannot play centre-forward because he is really good at attacking the line and to play centre-forward, most of the time you have your back to the goal,” Ancelotti said.
“I think for him, better is centre-left. He has more difficulty to find solutions as a winger but centre-left, for me, is the best position.
“He likes to play centre-forward, honestly. But for the fact that he is young, he plays where I tell him to play.
“Maybe when he is older, he is going to ask to play centre-forward but, until now, he didn’t ask.”
Ancelotti building on the idea of Richarlison developing into a centre-left forward rather than a winger or an out-and-out striker could, in turn, see Rodriguez take his performances to another level.
Rodriguez already boasts five goals and four assists in 18 Premier League games, but he has only contributed two of his strikes and created one in his last 13 outings after a blistering start to life in England.
The £90,000-per-week maestro’s latest assist came in Everton’s most recent fixture, last month’s Merseyside derby win over Liverpool, when he picked up possession in a central position before threading a perfectly weighted pass through to Richarlison to fire home.
Ancelotti should comfortably be able to expect a heightened number of assists from Rodriguez if he were to have Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin both making advancing runs from more centralised areas in the future.
Rodriguez consistently impressing in a centre-right role could also help Everton retain the £31.5m-rated Colombian beyond his debut campaign in England, following reports by Defensa Central last month that claimed the midfielder is already unhappy in the Premier League.
It was also noted that the two-time Champions League winner is open to joining Atletico Madrid, as he wishes to return to the Spanish capital and sign for the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium natives he came close to joining two years ago.
With European football at Everton a realistic possibility for next season, the Toffees would surely be loath to lose one of Ancelotti’s biggest stars.
So, the idea of a front three of the Colombian, Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison working more compactly may be worth exploring as the Blues enter the final third of the season.
AND in other news, Everton are tracking a prolific 15-goal winger backed to reach another level…