Everton’s decision to bring Richarlison to the club raised plenty of eyebrows last summer. The Brazilian had a mercurial maiden campaign at Watford, scoring five goals and providing 5 assists in an electric 13-game opening, but his form tailed off and he found himself struggling to break into the starting XI towards the season’s end.
His tangible dip in quality coincided with Marco Silva’s departure from the club, so it was no surprise that his decision to take the reigns at Everton saw the Watford man move to Merseyside in a £40 million deal.
The signing was the most expensive of Marcel Brands’ first summer as Everton’s director of football. Brands was brought into the club to revolutionise their transfer strategy but this deal was widely perceived as ill-judged and poor value for money, despite Richarlison’s massive scope for development.
Journalists, pundits and a multitude of Twitter experts needed no second invitation to savage Everton in the public spotlight, tipping Richarlison to flop and suggesting that the mega-money deal underlined the reckless inflation of a broken transfer market.
Paul Merson, a regular pundit on Sky Sports, led the charge with a scathing assessment on the deal, via Liverpool echo.
“I think that’s [ Richarlison signing] what’s spoiled the window if I’m being perfectly honest.
“I think that happened so early, and at £40m that set the benchmark. Teams then have gone, ‘Well if you’re getting £40m for him I want £60m, £70m, £80m, £90m and £100m.
“I think that’s the problem”
Merson was clearly alluding to the negative impact Richarlison’s switch could have on the inflation which is beginning to define the modern market, but his season proves that the pundit was wrong to suggest that the Toffees had dramatically over-paid.
It would be a gross exaggeration to say that Richarlison has been an utterly resounding success, however. Inconsistency has plagued his season and there are facets of his game which are clearly in need of improvement if he wants to fulfil his potential.
But the bottom line is this: he has scored 12 goals in the Premier League this season and his value now stands at a gargantuan £70.9 million (€82 million), according to CIES Football Observatory.
That exponential rise in value can be explained in part by the size of the fee which prised him away from Vicarage Road last summer, but it’s his form for both club and country which has sent his valuation into the stratosphere.
And, when looking back on Merson’s verdict with the wonderful benefit of hindsight, it becomes clear that Brands, Silva and the rest of Everton’s decision-makers actually got excellent value for money and the pundit was foolish to suggest that the Toffees were somehow tarnishing the market with their dealings.
What Everton did was pay a fair price for a target who clearly had the potential to thrive in this division and his form this season attests to that.
At just 21-years-of-age there’s no doubt Richarlison is worth the £70.9 million valuation which has been slapped on his head and Everton’s £40 million decision now looks like a masterstroke.