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Carlo Ancelotti hails ‘fantastic’ Everton forward Richarlison despite form dip

Liverpool v Everton – Premier League – Anfield
(Image credit: Phil Noble)

Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti has admitted Richarlison has not been at his best this season while stressing he is “still a fantastic player”.

The 23-year-old forward, scorer of 13 Premier League goals in each of his first two seasons with the Toffees after joining from Watford in 2018, has registered six in 28 appearances this term.

The goal in last Friday’s 1-0 win at Arsenal came about when Richarlison’s cross was turned by Bernd Leno into his own net.

Asked about the Brazilian, who is set to make his 100th top-flight appearance for Everton in Saturday’s home clash with Aston Villa, Ancelotti said: “I think this season Richarlison was not at his top, he was not so consistent for the quality he has, but he is still a fantastic player.

“We have to consider that he is also young, and it is acceptable that maybe this season he was not at his best.

“I think he had a good period but he has a possibility to score more goals for the quality he has for sure.”

Defender Michael Keane is fit again after missing the Arsenal match with a minor leg issue, leaving Everton’s list of players out due to injury, which has been considerable of late, down to two – Abdoulaye Doucoure (foot) and Jean-Philippe Gbamin (knee).

Following what was their first win in six league games, they are eighth in the table, six points behind fourth place with six matches to play – one more than all the teams above them.

Ancelotti, speaking at his press conference ahead of the Villa match, said: “We have to try to do our best and see which position we are at the end of the season.

“We are still in the fight, that is really good for us, really important. We are in a good momentum, we have players available, so this is a good sign.

“I think the victory against Arsenal gave us at least more motivation, and I hope we are able to get a result against Aston Villa.”

When Ancelotti was asked about talks over new contracts for James Rodriguez or Seamus Coleman, he said: “At this moment we are not talking about this. We know that there are some positions that we have to discuss.

“I think (technical director) Marcel Brands is involved in this and is going to talk in the next few weeks with the players directly.”

Asked again about playmaker Rodriguez’s contract, he said: “His contract is quite clear, he has two years, plus one (year) option, so I think we have time to talk about this. We don’t need to talk now about this, maybe in the next few months we can.”

Ancelotti also said of Rodriguez: “I think he is happy here.”

Ancelotti was also asked about investment on players this summer, and he said: “It’s a club that has a clear project. Of course, in this clear project, you need to invest because you want to improve and be better in the future.

“We didn’t talk for the next season, but we are going to talk in the next few weeks to try to improve the squad and to be better next season.”