Although Gabriel Jesus and Firminho have more pedigree, it is Richarlison, who has pushed to to the front of the queue to lead the line for Brazil…
Brazil has always relied on a top striker in pretty much all of its World Cup-winning campaigns. A great number nine is what the 5-time champions have missed over the past few editions of the ‘Copa do Mundo’. Should Tite continue to rely on Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino, or is it time to look for new faces?
Gabriel Jesus had an overall disappointing World Cup display, failing to find the back of the net in five games and missing a clear goal-scoring opportunity against Belgium in the quarter-final. Meanwhile, Roberto Firmino’s cameo appearance in the second half was far from enough to save the day. Firmino should have started that match, but football is about the moment and the Liverpool striker has had a rather slow start to the new season. With both strikers plying their trade in the English Premier League, it is very evident that if a Brazilian manages to out-perform them in England, then he should be a candidate for their spot with the national team.
This is the case with Richarlison who has been absolutely on fire since completing his transfer to Everton, and is currently one of the hottest young prospects in the EPL. The 21-year old has already taken advantage of the opportunities he has been given, and has scored three goals in six appearances for Brazil, out-scoring both of his direct competitors.
A three-way Premier League striking battle
Jesus is very reliant on his teammates to create goal-scoring chances for him to finish, whereas Richarlison has the quality to depend on himself. Very aggressive, fights for every ball, doesn’t run away from any challenge and is always hungry to score, without being afraid of taking risks and going solo. It’s as if the famous saying, “go big, or go home” was made for him.
On the other hand, Roberto Firmino scored 27 goals for Liverpool last season, and had he managed to retain the same form for this current campaign, he would have had the edge thanks to his strong physique, high-pressing abilities, his intelligent passing and link-up plays. In this sense, Bobby is the most complete out of the three, Richarlison the most self-reliant and Gabriel, at his best, the most proficient finisher.
Tite has already made it clear that the current priority is to win the Copa América on home soil, come July 2019, especially that FIFA World Cup is still 4 years away, with Qatar scheduled to host it in December, rather than June as is the tradition, meaning that there will be six extra months, allowing the national team’s manager to have enough time to send his A team to the South American tournament, before thinking about a real renovation.
With that in mind, Richarlison is, on current form, the most logical option for Brazil ahead of Copa América. Other young talents like Fluminense’s Pedro or Santos’ Gabriel Barbosa have the quality to step up, but as for 2019, the English Premier League trio are the favorites to fight for the two available spots for the striker’s role.