Everton’s Benítez insists there is no bad blood between him and Richarlison

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<span>Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

Rafael Benítez has reassured Richarlison that the goals will come and insisted he has no problem with the Everton forward’s reaction to being substituted against Burnley.

The Everton manager held talks with the Brazilian after Monday’s 3-1 win over Burnley and praised him for a tireless contribution, rather than admonish the 24-year-old for making clear his displeasure when withdrawn in the 81st minute. With Everton comfortably ahead and Dominic Calvert-Lewin sidelined for several weeks, Benítez wanted to protect Richarlison before Saturday’s visit to Aston Villa and, after three games without a goal, believes it is only a question of time before his effort is rewarded.

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“Richarlison is very competitive,” said Benítez. “He’s a winner, but he’s a different character to the other players. He wanted to be on the pitch and he wanted to score goals. I could see he was disappointed but he was very good when I was telling him how hard he was working, how hard it was for him to play against two aggressive centre-backs, and he did well. He didn’t score but he made his contribution.

“He’ll be ready for the next game and hungry to score goals and help the team. I will say again – he has a different character and we have to try to manage him. I had a conversation with him in the past about what I was expecting from him and hopefully he can do it. At the moment I can see only goals coming from him.”

Benítez is often portrayed as cold or distant with his players but, as the wide-ranging conversation with Richarlison demonstrates, that image can be misleading.

“I think that perception is wrong,” Benítez said. “I talk with my players every day about anything. The priority is football but I talk with them all the time. With Richarlison I was talking about Ronaldo, the Brazilian player, Sócrates, Garrincha, even his dogs. You try to be sure you understand your players and in this case we talked about Brazilian players, ones he maybe doesn’t know as well as ones he does know. I talked to him about Garrincha because he was very good at dribbling. We talked in Spanish because there are some similarities between Spanish and Portuguese and he can understand.

“I think it’s normal for any manager to talk to his players like that. The perception is because I am pushing and I want to improve them and sometimes you are not satisfied because you want to see them play a bit better. It has to be like that. As a manager you have to bring the best from your players and that is the way for me.”

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