Carlo Ancelotti says returning Everton forward Richarlison possesses all the attributes to grow into one of the world’s best footballers.
Brazilian Richarlison is available to face Fulham on Sunday following a three-match ban, with Ancelotti urging a strong reaction from Everton after three successive defeats.
Manager Ancelotti has limited preparation time for Sunday’s game at Craven Cottage after Richarlison was among a handful of players reporting back from international duty on Thursday.
The Italian identified Everton’s defending as the main area to address after losing to Manchester United a fortnight ago
But he admits having Richarlison back to sprinkle his magic in southwest London is a boon for his team – even more so with the 23-year-old buoyant after scoring in his country’s win over Uruguay this week.
“We didn’t lose [the past three games] because Richarlison was not there,” said Ancelotti.
“If he was a defender, I can say, ‘Okay we lost power in defence’.
“He is a striker and the problem we had was, we didn’t defend properly in the past three games.
“We want to have a reaction, we want to come back to play well, as we did at the start of the season
“There will be pressure on us and there has to be because we didn’t do well in the past three games.
“But Richarlison is really important for us, a top player.
“It is important to have him fit for this period.
“He is happy because he scored for his national team and showed a good condition.
“He has quality, he has everything.
“Richarlison can reach the top level in football.
“He has all the skill necessary to be at the top.
“He is still young, he is a humble guy.
“Really serious and really professional.
“He can be at the top soon.”
Richarlison was joined by countryman Allan and Colombian duo James Rodriguez and Yerry Mina in reporting back to Everton on Thursday after South American World Cup qualifying fixtures.
Indeed, Ancelotti has been without the rump of his senior players for most of the past fortnight, with all but four of the 18-man squad for Everton’s meeting with Manchester United on 7 November subsequently linking up with their national teams.
The former Real Madrid boss is grateful, then, for an extra day to get ready for Fulham after the game was moved to Sunday.
Everton returned from October’s international break with a Saturday lunchtime match against Liverpool.
Ancelotti’s side drew that fixture to remain top of the Premier League with 13 points from five matches.
Following defeats by Southampton, Newcastle United and Manchester United – when a combined seven goals were conceded – Everton are seventh, five points off the top.
“To have one more day to prepare is better for the players who arrived back yesterday,” said Ancelotti, talking in his Friday pre-match press briefing.
“We played against Liverpool early on Saturday and for the players it was not the best way to prepare for this kind of game.
“We trained with four or five players during this break, so we didn’t have the opportunity to reset.
“But we have two training sessions before the game, we will try to do our best and defensively reset the team.
“We have to try to work in those two days, to explain the mistakes clearly, with video sessions tomorrow and before the game.
“We have to defend differently.
“We have to be more aggressive and more compact and have more concentration and try to work together.
“You have to work on this on the pitch but you can switch your mental aspect defensively and also improve by talking about it.”
Ancelotti was asked about the links between football and degenerative brain diseases.
A University of Glasgow study last year discovered footballers are five times more likely than members of the general public to suffer with Alzheimer’s disease.
The risk of developing motor neurone disease (MND) is four times greater.
And there is a twofold increase in instances of former footballers suffering from Parkinson’s disease when measured against the wider population.
Ancelotti’s former AC Milan teammate Stefano Borgonovo died aged 49 in 2013 after suffering with MND.
“Every piece of research is welcome,” said Ancelotti.
“It is true, 40 years ago when I played there was not the control players have in this period.
“Players now are more controlled.
“It is an aspect we have to take seriously.
“The welfare of the players is the most important thing, the fact a lot of players in the past had problems – not only dementia, but with a lot of other things – is a concern for everyone.
“I had a teammate who died from LSA (MND is known in Italy as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
“We were worried about what happened in the past and the treatment we had.
“Now we have to support the research for the future.
"We have to work for the future of the players who are playing now.
"Fortunately, things improved a lot, on the physical aspect and prevention."