One pundit has called for Brazil striker Richarlison to be given more chances as a No.9 at Tottenham after his heroics at the World Cup on Thursday.
The Spurs frontman scored both goals, the second an incredible acrobatic volley, as Brazil cruised to a 2-0 triumph over Serbia in their opening game of the tournament.
Former Leeds striker feels ‘there is a case’ for Richarlison to be given more of a central role. Especially after his two-goal salvo against the Serbs.
The 25-year-old moved to north London in a £60million switch from Everton. However, he’s had limited chances to play centrally so far due to Harry Kane’s importance to Antonio Conte’s side.
Things have been very different for his country though. Richarlison has now registered a combined 26 goals and assists in 39 Selecao caps.
The forward has so far notched just twice for Spurs. Both of those goals came in the same game against Marseille in the Champions League.
Richarlison has not been helped by injuries, while Conte rarely plays with a two up front – and if he does it’s Kane and Son Heung-min.
That leaves the Brazilian either playing in one of the wide forward roles or on the bench.
Richarlison can fill Kane void
And while Conte has previously spoken out about Kane’s battle with fatigue, having started each of Spurs’ 22 games this season, Whelan feels Richarlison should be trusted to take some of the workload of the England skipper.
Speaking to Football Insider, Whelan said: “What his record for Brazil shows is that he can play as an out-and-out number nine.
“That’s for sure. We saw him play a lot out wide for Everton and now for Tottenham as well.
“There’s a case for him sharing the load that is on Harry Kane’s shoulders. Conte could even play them as a two in some games.
“He has shown for Brazil that he’s just as potent – if not more – when he’s playing centrally. It’s food for thought for Conte.”
Four into three does not go
Conte’s problem with Richarlison is certainly a nice one to have. However, it’s often the supply line to the forwards that is an issue for Tottenham.
The Spurs chief is known to be pondering signing an attacking midfielder in January, but the big problem is where one actually fits into Conte’s favoured 3-4-3 system.
The times the Italian has played a three-man midfield it’s not really worked, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Rodrigo Bentancur and Yves Bissouma a little too similar.
Ideally, Dejan Kulusevski could slot into the No.10 role, or even Kane. That would allow Richarlison to play up front with Son. But it would also mean one of Conte’s top four attacking players missing out.
The dilemma is certainly there for Conte, although it’s better than struggling for options for sure.
Tottenham are not back in action until Boxing Day when they head to London rivals Brentford.