Young Brazilian midfielder Richarlison de Andrade burst on to the Fantasy Premier League scene last season with five goals in the first 12 Gameweeks of the season. However, the promising start came grinding to a halt as the goals dried up.
A couple more assists kept FPL managers interested in the Watford player for a while, but the wheels had completely fallen off the bandwagon by the time his manager, Marco Silva, was sacked in January 2018. After recording more than 2,000 minutes of Premier League action in 24 gameweeks under Silva, he only just topped 750 in the remaining 14 games of the season.
Now, however, the 21-year-old is once again turning the heads of FPL managers following a transfer to Everton in a deal reported to be worth up to £50 million. A kind set of opening fixtures for the Toffees (wol, SOU, bou, HUD, WHU) combined with a middle-of-the-road 6.5m price tag has, at the time of writing, seen Richarlison find his way into nearly 17 per cent of FPL squads for the opening round of the 2018-19 season.Embed from Getty Images
Silva is now Everton’s manager and the prospect of a renewed link up between the player and the man who brought him to English football from Fluminense has only stoked the expectations of some FPL managers.
Under Silva, Richarlison rattled off shots (3.12 per 90 minutes) and shots in the box (2.51 per 90 minutes) at a rate that was respectable when compared to more highly priced players like Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette (2.69 and 2.36 respectively for the full season, when adjusted to remove penalty kicks). Despite the shot volume, his ability to actually hit the target was was down on many of his peers, with less than 20 per cent of his shots testing the keeper. However, when he did find his mark, his Shots on Target conversion rate in this period was a respectable 35 per cent.
However, a closer look at the Silva era tells a story of two halves. The first 12 weeks saw Richarlison score five goals from nine Shots on Target, a high but not completely unsustainable 56 per cent conversion rate. He was shooting an average of 3.79 times every 90 minutes and doing so inside the box 2.91 times per 90 minutes, a rate that if continued would have put him inside the top 10 for regular midfielders and forwards last season.
In the following 12 weeks under Silva, these numbers fell back to 2.47 and 2.13 respectively, while the percentage of shots that were on target fell from a lowly 21 per cent to just 17 per cent. While he may feel slightly aggrieved not to get anything from those five Shots on Target, it’s not a surprise that the goals dried up.
The accuracy improved once Javi Gracia replaced Silva at Vicarage Road and by the end of the season the proportion of Richarlison’s shots testing the keeper had reached 23 per cent. Nevertheless, that was the joint lowest with Crystal Palace’s Andros Townsend among players registering at least 10 shots on target in the season. The highest rate belonged to Burnley’s Chris Wood (62 per cent), while David Silva is shown on the first chart as his 37 per cent was close to the 38 per cent average among this group of players.
The interesting thing that emerges from Richarlison’s underlying data in the Gracia period (Gameweek 25-38) is the more balanced shooting profile. The frequency with which the Brazilian took shots and did so in the box remained down on the first 12 weeks of the season, but comparable to the second 12 weeks. However, his accuracy doubled so a respectable 34 per cent of his shots were now on target. Overall, his underlying shot profile changed from one of high volume but low accuracy, to one with a shape that should in theory suggest more consistent returns in the long run. Ultimately, the goals didn’t come under Gracia, but it’s hard to draw any firm conclusions from the data because 751 minutes is not a huge sample size.
What the evidence does do is raise questions about how much of Richarlison’s performance early last season can be attributed to Marco Silva. It is possible other factors – such as a young player tiring, but developing as the season progressed – may also be in play. Hopefully, the 2018-19 season will give us more clues.