Still no place for Richarlison in Brazil’s squad, but he could be considered in a centre forward role

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WATFORD fans may recall Richarlison breaking down in tears after being substituted in the win over Chelsea back in February.

His reaction was not hard to understand. He had not scored against a big six club, and goals were there for the taking – Watford won 4-1.

Richarlison broke down after being subbed for Watford last season
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The game was live on Brazilian TV. It was his chance to make an impression and perhaps force his way into contention for a place on the plane to Russia.

After his fine start with Everton, he was entitled to feel aggrieved last Friday, when Brazil announced their first post-World Cup squad, and his name was not on the list.

Maybe he is still paying a price for his failure at Under-20 level.

At the start of last year, with Richarlison in the starting line up, Brazil failed even to qualify for the 2017 Under-20 World Cup, where England beat Venezuela in the final.

Only appearing at Under 20 level, Richarlison has been overlooked by the senior Brazil side
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He signed for Everton for £40m in the summer
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Richarlison has starred for the Toffees in the opening two games

Certainly he is paying a price for playing in a position where Brazil have such strength in depth.

Richarlison favours attacking from wide on the left – where Neymar operates, and where Phillippe Coutinho is happiest.

Brazil have extraordinary riches in the wide striker position.

Richarlison was mentioned in the press conference by coach Tite, in the same breath as rivals who were also left out.

Everton fans have taken to Richarlison’s goals
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Barcelona’s new signing Malcolm was also overlooked by Brazil

New Barcelona signing Malcom, David Neres of Ajax, Real Madrid’s teenage sensation Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo of Santos, another prodigious talent who is set to join Real Madrid when he turns 18.

TIM VICKERY Everton signing Bernard among latest crop of South Americans in the Premier League but at what cost to back home in Brazil?

Getting in front of that lot will not be easy. But Richarlison has one advantage.

As shown by his headed goal against Southampton at the weekend, he is a mixture of wide striker and centre forward.

And if Brazil have more wingers and support strikers than they can possibly use, the same is not true of the centre forward position.

Richarlison has the aerial ability needed to lead Brazil’s front line
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Gabriel Jesus
Gabriel Jesus was left out of the Brazil squad after a poor World Cup
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The big casualty of Brazil’s World cup elimination seems to be Gabriel Jesus.

The Manchester City striker was a talisman of the regime of coach Tite, and was the team’s top scorer going into the World Cup – where he was consistently disappointing.

In that fateful quarter final defeat to Belgium the comparison between Jesus and Romelu Lukaku was not a flattering one for the Brazilian.

And even with the introduction of Roberto Firmino, Brazil lacked the physical presence of a Lukaku as they set about chasing the game.

Roberto Firmino
Roberto Firmino flattered to deceive in a striking role for Brazil
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But Liverpool’s new signing Fabinho was called up with a view to play full back
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Fluminense youngster Pedro has been chosen as the target man striker in the current squad – Brazil face USA and El Salvador next month – but maybe Richarlison’s capacity to get into the penalty area will be the key to an international career.

Along with centre forward, right back has become something of a problem position for Brazil – surprisingly as it has been a traditional strength.

But with Danilo of Manchester City still not back to full fitness, Brazil have been forced to improvise.

Fagner of Corinthians retains his place in the squad. And the other right back is Liverpool’s Fabinho.

Richarlison’s ability to get into the penalty area will be key to his international career
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Richarlison can play centre forward, as well as wide left
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Going in to the World Cup, the current Brazilian coaching staff rejected ideas of taking Fabinho as reserve right back on the – entirely logical – grounds that he no longer plays in the position.

For over two years now he has been successfully converted to a midfield role.

But with the cupboard bare, Tite was forced into a rethink. He revealed on Friday that he had been in contact with Fabinho to check on his readiness to return to right back.

Hopefully for Richarlison, he’ll earn his first cap
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Brazil manager Tite has a lot of thinking to do after stuttering in the World Cup

The player responded that all his development through the youth ranks had taken place at full back, and that while he would not be planning on too many overlaps down the wing, he was quite happy to play there, defending and constructing the play from deep.

Fabinho’s international hopes, then, are boosted by the fact that the country of Djalma Santos, Carlos Alberto, Jorginho, Cafu, Maicon and Daniel Alves now suddenly has a dearth of right backs.

While across Stanley Park, Richarlison could be forgiven for lamenting the strength of the competition that, so far at least, has prevented him from winning a Brazil call up.