Everton striker Richarlison. Picture: Marc Atkins/Getty Images
It’s scarcely the sort of ending to the summer Everton would have hoped for.
Yet the domino effect that so often occurs in the late stages of the transfer window means the Toffees have been dragged into such an unwanted situation.
Real Madrid’s interest in Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe has had a knock-on impact at Goodison Park.
Should PSG lose the 22-year-old, they’ve reportedly earmarked Richarlison as his replacement.
With the Brazilian’s agent supposedly making the trip to the French capital to discuss terms, a nervy final few days of the window lie ahead.
If PSG’s interest in Richarlison is concrete and a bid is lodged then manager Rafa Benitez, director of football Marcel Brands and owner Farhad Moshiri will have have a decision to make.
Several factors will have to be weighed up before reaching a conclusion.
What’s been said
Benitez was asked about Richarlison’s future during his press conference ahead of Saturday’s trip to Brighton.
The Spaniard made his thoughts clear.
“We are not considering selling him,” said Benitez. “He is our player, we are really pleased for him, we are happy.
“Hopefully he can score a lot of goals this year for us.”
The fee Everton could receive
While this summer’s transfer window, on the whole, has been quieter than usual, there have been numerous lavish transfer fees paid.
Jack Grealish’s move to Manchester City for £100 million and Chelsea coughing up £97.5 million for Romelu Lukaku are prime examples.
Everton will certainly be looking for a substantial profit on the £50 million they paid Watford for Richarlison in July 2018.
And there is a valid argument that the Blues could, quite rightly, expect to fetch similar to what Grealish and Lukaku went for.
Richarlison is almost two years younger than the former and four years younger than Lukaku. He’s yet to hit his zenith.
What’s more, he’s a regular for Brazil. Earlier this summer, he featured seven times to help his country reach the Copa America final, starting ahead of the likes of Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino.
Compare that to Grealish, who only made one start in four appearances for England at the Euros.
Grealish was also left on the bench for the penalty shootout defeat to Italy in the final.
Let’s not forget it wasn’t that long ago when Everton rebuffed an £85 million bid from Barcelona for Richarlison, either.
Since rejecting that offer in January 2020, his stock and prowess have increased markedly - meaning his price tag should do the same.
With three years left on his deal, the Toffees hold plenty of bargaining power.
Finding a replacement
It would be folly not to think that, at some point, Everton would receive interest in Richarlison again.
It’s generally thought that this season would likely be his last at Goodison before the European superpowers came knocking.
Given that Richarlison returned to the Blues for the first game of the season - only days after inspiring Brazil to Olympic gold success - suggested that he was sticking around for the campaign.
Benitez, after all, admitted Richarlison “has to give something back” after being allowed to compete in Tokyo.
He’s started both of Everton’s Premier League games this term, scoring against Southampton, and Benitez hasn’t been planning for life without him.
Had PSG shown their interest earlier this summer, the Toffees could have come up with a robust, savvy strategy to replace Richarlison.
Yet with only four days before the transfer window closes, it makes things profusely harder to get someone else in.
Anyone identified as a replacement would come at a premium too, especially as the selling club would know the lavish war chest at Everton’s disposal.
Sending out a statement
We’ve already witnessed Daniel Levy’s steadfastness this summer by refusing to sell Harry Kane from Tottenham Hotspur to Man City.
Despite talk of £125 million bids being lodged, Spurs’ unwavering approach saw City relent.
The London outfit see Kane as key to propelling them back into the Champions League.
Should Everton take a similar tack and point-blank refuse all bids, it would be a similar statement of intent.
It would show that the Blues are not happy with another mid-table finish. Instead, it would outline their ambitions of propelling themselves up the table.
It’d also send out the correct message to other prized assets such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Lucas Digne and Ben Godfrey - who could all garner interest next summer - that Everton have clear aspirations of moving forward.
Money to reinvest
Filling the void of a talismanic player would indeed be difficult at this juncture of the window.
But, on the flip side, selling Richarlison would lead to a sizable windfall.
It would give Benitez the sort of transfer kitty required to bolster certain areas of his squad that require attention.
Realistically, the ex-Real Madrid chief could bring in at least three quality additions and add strength in depth.
You’d imagine that Benitez would want another centre-forward to replace Richarlison, with the likes of Brighton’s Neil Maupay and ex-Newcastle striker Salomon Rondon linked to complement Calvert-Lewin.
Meanwhile, a new winger to compete with Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend is on some fans’ wish list. Luis Diaz is reportedly closing in on a £21.5 million switch while Burnley wide man Dwight McNeil’s name was mentioned earlier this summer.
Everton are still a right-back short to compete with Seamus Coleman and a ball-carrying midfielder are other areas of the squad that could be boosted.
Financial fair play reset
Everton’s well-documented shortages in the transfer market this summer are down to being vulnerable to financial fair play rules.
Accounts in December saw Everton post losses of £139.9 million. Over a three-year period, Premier League clubs are allowed to lose a maximum of £105 million before they’re hit with penalties.
Luckily for the Blues, a ramification of the pandemic meant the Premier League have allowed leniency.
Still, Everton will have to swiftly improve their situation and ensure they’re no longer walking a tightrope.
If they took the decision to sell Richarlison, it could potentially provide the Toffees with a reset button they didn’t expect.
An unpopular decision it might be; certainly, your average season-ticket holder wouldn’t be receptive to the idea of funds not being reinvested into the squad.
If that decision was taken, Evertonians could, quite rightly, write off the season at this formative stage following an encouraging start.
Yet it would ease the financial burden significantly. It might be a bleak campaign overall but it could put the Toffees back onto an even financial footing next summer.