Marco Silva claims to be unaware of whether any bid from Barcelona for Richarlison was received during his spell as Everton boss, but he is tipping the Brazilian to reach the very top of the game.
The Toffees spent big luring a South American forward away from Watford in the summer of 2018.
That deal, which saw Silva reunited with a player he had previously worked with at Vicarage Road, could end up being worth as much as £50 million ($63m).
Richarlison has justified the faith shown in him at Goodison Park, with 26 goals recorded through 69 appearances – landing him a new contract in the process.
He has also become a senior international with his country, earning 19 caps, with his rise to prominence said to have caught the eye of those at Camp Nou.
Talk of a big-money offer being tabled circulated at one stage, with a talented 23-year-old said to have become a top target for the Liga champions.
“I don’t know if it was true or not, you know how it is with rumours in football,” Silva told Sky Sports when quizzed on the Barca links.
“When the market is coming, then you start to see the names of clubs for your best players. I don’t know if it was true or not but what I do know is that when I was in charge of the player he was always really focused on Everton Football Club in that period, and he is the same now.
“If big clubs come for him in the future it will not distract him because he likes the club and the way everyone welcomed him.”
While reluctant to speculate on what happened in the past, Silva admits that Richarlison is an exciting talent in the present and hot prospect for the future – with the potential there for him to earn further interest from European heavyweights.
“He has to prove his quality and keep improving,” added Silva, who left his role with Everton in December 2019.
“I did everything to get him to the Premier League when he was in Brazil, to come to Watford. I was not sure that he would make an impact so fast but I was sure about his skills.
“What he gets now depends on himself because with his skills, being so young, he has already been in the national team of Brazil with the quality that they have, for them to choose him is a fantastic step.
“He needs to keep working hard at Everton and achieve important things. Everton won’t be thinking of selling him and it will be difficult for a club if they want to buy a player like Richarlison.”