Leeds United and Everton learn to live without Raphinha and Richarlison, but who is doing better?

Leeds United and Everton learn to live without Raphinha and Richarlison, but who is doing better?

Leeds United and Everton learn to live without Raphinha and Richarlison, but who is doing better?

Leeds United host Everton on Tuesday, but both sides are learning to adjust to life without two star-studded Brazilians.

Raphinha and Richarlison were instant successes after joining the clubs in 2020 and 2018 respectively.

While Rahinha was a relatively under-the-radar arrival from Rennes for £ 17m, eyebrows were raised when Everton spent the first £ 40m to bring Richarlison from Watford.

A brace on his Everton debut quickly made Richarlison dear to the Evertonians, and he went on to score 53 goals in all competitions in his four seasons at Goodison Park.

Neither player will be involved at Elland Road on Tuesday. Raphinha is at Barcelona and Richarlison will prepare for Tottenham’s match against West Ham.

But who has been the biggest miss so far and what steps have Leeds and Everton taken in trying to replace them?

What are they missing?

In his two seasons in the Premier League, Raphinha contributed 29 goals directly, scoring 17 goals and providing 12 assists, at least one more than any teammate.

The variety of his shots was impressive, with seven of his league goals for Leeds coming from outside the box. Only one player – Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse – could boast a better total (nine) in the same amount of time. That quality was on display when he planted a wonderful goal in the upper right corner for Barca against Real Madrid in a pre-season friendly in the United States.

He started well at Barca, with just three players in La Liga having created more scoring opportunities so far than the 25-year-old (eight).

Raphina’s 11 league goals last season marked his best performance of the 15 scored in the 2017-18 season, when he played for Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal. He didn’t score as freely for Sporting CP and only scored seven goals during his only full season with Rennes in France, but in Marcelo Bielsa’s system he thrived.

Rahinha's goals were crucial in Leeds beating the dip last season

Rahinha’s goals were crucial in Leeds beating the dip last season

One of the Premier League’s most hardworking wide players, Richarlison provides the flair to go with the graft and prank that endear him to his fans. He has played at least 30 league games in each of his seasons in Merseyside, operating across the frontline and even as number 10 at times under Rafael Benitez.

While not as creative as Raphinha, whose 129 league chances created for Leeds surpass the total managed by Richarlison in his four years at Everton (109), Richarlison’s ability to find space behind defenses and between lines means it’s often in the right place at the right time to put the finishing touches.

Meanwhile, his tenacity off the ball was perfectly demonstrated by his assist for Harry Kane’s second goal for Spurs against Nottingham Forest on Sunday. After chasing what appeared to be a lost cause, Richarlison spotted Kane with a sublime cross from outside, providing the Tottenham talisman with a simple header into a wide open net.

Richarlison has been Everton's key striker for the past four seasons

Richarlison has been Everton’s key striker for the past four seasons

Spare parts

Raphinha wasn’t the only great player to leave Leeds, with Kalvin Phillips being sold to Manchester City.

Leeds, eager to support Jesse Marsch, were quick to reinvest those funds into the team. Luis Sinisterra was enlisted by Feyenoord as a de facto replacement for Raphinha.

More comfortable on the left, but also able to stand out from the opposite end, Sinisterra has plenty of pace and skill. A pre-season hamstring injury was cause for concern, but he returned in time to make his debut as a substitute against Southampton on 13 August.

A wonderful goal on his full debut – in an EFL Cup win over Barnsley last week – showed what the Colombian international is all about, who scored 23 goals for Feyenoord last season.

Marcsh’s compatriot Brenden Aaronson is an attacking midfielder who shone for Salzburg and made a brilliant start to life in England and will also help bridge the gap.

Things have been more complicated for Everton when it comes to replacing Richarlison.

Though he’s had to settle for Spurs cameo roles so far, Richarlison was Everton’s attacking center. With Dominic Calvert-Lewin injured for much of last season, it was his 10 goals, six of which came from April onwards, that were instrumental in maintaining Frank Lampard’s side. He was involved in 10 of Everton’s 11 league wins in 2021-22.

With Richarlison sold at least in part to appease the Premier League profit and loss regulations, Everton was unable to use the initial £ 50 million they received from Spurs as freely as they would have liked.

Dwight McNeil has been included but is not a scorer, putting an extra burden on Demarai Gray and Anthony Gordon, who is attracting Chelsea interest. Neal Maupay arrived last week to ease some of the strain, but with Calvert-Lewin again injured, Everton’s attack looks blunt.

Everton winger Anthony Gordon is a Chelsea goal

Everton winger Anthony Gordon is a Chelsea goal

Who is coping best?

At the time of writing, Leeds seem better equipped to make up for the loss of Raphina than Everton do Richarlison.

That could change in the coming days, with Everton linked to moves by Ben Brereton Diaz (Blackburn Rovers), Hwang Hee-chan (Wolves) and PSV star Cody Gakpo, with the latter two rumored to also be of interest to Leeds. and the Whites. Daniele Giacomo. That said, those moves may hinge on Gordon’s future.

Leeds have taken seven points in their first four games, while Everton have only two. Despite being defeated by Brighton on Saturday, they have already scored seven goals. With striker Rodrigo in shape, the Whites slightly outperformed the expected goals (xG – 6.8)

Leeds' outstanding performance so far this season has come against Chelsea

Leeds’ outstanding performance so far this season has come against Chelsea

Everton, on the other hand, underperformed theirs, scoring three times from an xG of 4.8, suggesting that Richarlison’s finishing skills – and to be fair, Calvert-Lewin – have been lost. The golden opportunities lost by Gordon and Gray in the draws against Nottingham Forest and Brentford are prime examples of where a striker of Richarlison’s skill would likely have done better.

It’s a long season and Tuesday’s match between the teams that finished 17th and 16th respectively last season shouldn’t be considered a sure indicator of where these teams will end up. But as for the two absent Brazilians, it is Leeds that adapt faster.

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