Leighton Baines has revealed the Everton squad has already witnessed Richarlison’s “fantastic quality” in training, as the defender explained why he is relishing the prospect of linking up with the Blues' new signing.
Baines and Richarlison both played the second half of the Toffees' friendly defeat against Blackburn Rovers on Thursday and contributed to a much-improved display after the break.
The Brazilian, who signed a five-year deal on Tuesday after joining from Watford, twice went close to marking his debut in perfect fashion. After expertly working some space on the edge of Rovers’ box with some nifty footwork, he sent a swerving effort inches over the bar, before heading agonisingly wide from Kieran Dowell’s whipped delivery late on.
While a debut goal was not to be, the 21-year-old showcased exciting flashes of pace, skill and dribbling ability in his first 45 minutes as an Everton player. Operating predominately from the left-hand side at Ewood Park, he also combined effectively with Baines as the pair shared some neat interchanges.
Toffees boss Marco Silva has backed Richarlison - who he first brought to the Premier League last summer when he was Hornets manager - to provide Everton with “something different” to the attacking talent already in the Blues squad.
And while Richarlison only joined up with the squad for the first time on Wednesday, Baines revealed his range of attributes has already impressed.
“I think we saw against Blackburn more than a couple of glimpses of what he’s all about,” the left-back told evertontv
. “He’s got fantastic quality, we saw that last year in the Premier League, we’ve seen that already in his couple of days of training and playing half a game with us, so we look forward to seeing more of him.
“I enjoyed that 45 minutes playing with him. He was always available, he can go alone if he needs to, and he’s got an eye for a pass so he’s definitely someone who you can combine with. We managed to link up together a couple of times against Blackburn.
“He seems to have settled in well and, if you are judging by what we’ve seen on the pitch, then you’d say he has done.”
While Baines admitted he was disappointed with the Blues’ result at Ewood Park, he emphasised fitness is the overriding priority as the Blues gear up for the start of the Premier League campaign in just over two weeks.
The 33-year-old – who sits 16th on Everton’s all-time appearances list having turned out 403 times for the Club – believes the squad are in good shape ahead of their top-flight opener against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux on August 11.
“We’d like to have won the game because you always go out with that intention, but it was 45 minutes for everyone and, with games in quick succession, we’ll continue to build on our fitness and get ready for the start of the season,” he said.
“It’s all about trying to get fitness levels as high as we can and staying fit and clear of injuries. We’ve put the hard yards in so far this week on the training pitch and the Blackburn game was a part of that.”