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Richarlison May Not Make Tottenham's Best XI But He Could Be A Brilliant Buy

Richarlison may be one of Tottenham Hotspur's most significant signings this century... even if his does not necessarily improve their best XI.

Brazil's no.9 signed a five-year contract with Spurs on Friday, after his new club agreed to pay Everton £50 million plus a possible £10m more in add-ons, as reported by The Guardian.

Richarlison was the main man at Goodison Park. He was Everton's leading scorer in each of the past three seasons.

His status at Spurs will not be quite as prominent - not straight away at least - despite the fact he will become the club's record signing if his add-ons are paid in full.

Richarlison's preference is to play as a central striker. That is where he ended his Everton career and where he has played for Brazil in recent games.

But that is Harry Kane's domain at Tottenham and it has been ever since he broke into the first team in 2014.

Kane leapfrogged Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor to become Tottenham's lead frontman aged 21. Soldado and Adebayor both played their final game for Spurs in May 2015 and since then Kane has been without an able deputy and has been pretty much undroppable.

Since Kane made his top-flight debut in August 2012, just three other Tottenham players have scored at least 15 goals in an EPL season - Gareth Bale (21 in 2012/13), Dele Alli (18 in 2016/17) and Son Heung-min (17 in 2020/21 and 23 in 2021/22).

Kane's last eight EPL seasons have all yielded 15+ goals (21, 25, 29, 30, 17, 18, 23 and 17), while he has also become the team's chief playmaker and assist-provider following the departure of Christian Eriksen in 2021.

Harry Kane shoots past Everton's Jordan Pickford to score his 176th Premier League goal for Tottenham

Harry Kane has been Tottenham's leading scorer (in all competitions) in each of the last eight seasons

The brilliance of Kane made it so difficult for Spurs to recruit a back-up to the England captain - because not many top-level strikers are prepared to join a team where they will play second fiddle.

Yet that is exactly what Richarlison will do, initially at least. While the 25-year-old is an excellent player, he will undoubtedly begin his Spurs career firmly behind Kane in the pecking order.

Richarlison can also play out wide as part of a three-man attack but he is not good enough to take Son's spot on the left when manager Antonio Conte picks his very best XI.

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It could be a similar story on the right where Dejan Kulusevski has established himself as a key cog in Conte's system with 13 goal involvements (scored five, assisted eight) in his first 1,267 Premier League minutes.

Conte is unlikely to abandon his 3-4-3 formation on regular basis in order to accommodate Richarlison, although he and Kane could play alongside each other as an attacking duo or in a quartet when Spurs are chasing goals late in games.

Much of Richarlison's game time is likely to come when one or more of Kane, Son or Kulusevski is injured or being rested.

In other words, Richarlison will be a squad player. That might not sound like a role worthy of being hailed as one of Tottenham's most significant signings this century, but Richarlison's arrival could be truly transformative.

Tottenham's first XI is good enough to compete with England's very best. This was evidenced by their unbeaten record against City and Liverpool last season.

But football is no longer about eleven players - especially after the Premier League confirmed the introduction of five subs per match.

In terms of the squad game, Spurs have been miles behind the top teams for years.

Richarlison pictured after scoring for Brazil against Chile in March 2022

Richarlison has scored 14 goals in 36 senior international games for Brazil

While Kane has delivered some superhuman performances, he is human and, as such, susceptible to injury, fatigue and even occasional dips in form.

Until now, Spurs have been toothless when Kane has been injured and compelled to keep playing him when he has been tired (which in turn makes him more susceptible to injury).

Richarlison's arrival means that Spurs can now strategically rest Kane to keep him in peak condition for crucial games and moments, while also being able to maintain their challenge should their lead frontman pick up an injury.

Richarlison's move to north London could prove to be good news for the England national team too.

In each of the last three major international tournaments, England captain Kane has reported for duty exhausted after playing practically every minute of Tottenham's club campaign.

With Richarlison now on hand to ease that burden, 2022/23 could well be Kane's best season to date if he is allowed to focus more on quality over quantity when it comes to game time.