Richarlison vs Tosun vs Calvert-Lewin: who should lead the line for Everton?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 28: Richarlison of Everton reacts during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Everton FC at Old Trafford on October 28, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 28: Richarlison of Everton reacts during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Everton FC at Old Trafford on October 28, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images) /

Out of the League Cup on penalties, embarrassed in the FA Cup and shooting themselves in the foot at Anfield. All sounds a little familiar for Everton, doesn’t it? 

It’s fair to say Everton have been absolutely shambolic since that Merseyside derby defeat back in December, with the Toffees going on a wretched run of nine defeats in 15 games.

The ramshackle defending of set pieces is an argument that has raged for some time now and isn’t something that needs repeating here, but that is by no means the only issue with Everton’s play at the moment.

Something that has plagued Everton this season and in almost every game since Romelu Lukaku’s departure is the lack of a true, goalscoring centre-forward.

The likes of Richarlison, Cenk Tosun and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all taking up the lead role with various levels of success.

A January move for Michy Batshuayi looked on the cards before falling flat – the Belgian ended up at Crystal Palace – and now Everton must stick with what they have until the summer at least.

So, with that in mind, which of the three aforementioned forwards should lead the line for the remainder of the season to ensure 2018/19 doesn’t become a complete washout that ends in Marco Silva losing his job?


Ah, Richarlison; the player that Everton ruined the transfer window to sign from Watford in the summer, according to Paul Merson, but has since gone on to score 10 goals in 25 Premier League games so far.

On the face of it, the Brazil international should be the perfect man to lead the line for Silva: he’s fast, robust and has a bigger box of tricks than Houdini himself.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 03: Richarlison of Everton celebrates with teammates after he scores his sides third goal during the Premier League match between Everton FC and Brighton & Hove Albion at Goodison Park on November 3, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) /

However, it’s become increasingly apparent that Richarlison really struggles when taken from his natural left-wing berth and forced through the middle.

His lack of height and aerial prowess means he has won just 2.46 aerial duels per 90 minutes in the league this season, completely out-done by Calvert-Lewin and Tosun who have won 5.84 and 3.23 respectively, while the 21-year-old has scored just four of his goals during the 11 times he’s been deployed as the attacking focal point.

RIcharlison has attempted 3.23 dribbles per 90 minutes this season and the sight of him isolating a full-back then driving inside truly is something to behold and has led to him drawing no fewer than 167 fouls this season.

There is absolutely no doubt Richarlison is a left-sided, inside forward and to shoehorn him through the middle takes away the very essence of his game and robs Everton of one of their most potent attacking weapons.

Cenk Tosun

£28m seemed like a hefty sum to pay in January 2018 for a striker who had only hit peak form in Turkey within the past two seasons.

Tosun, though, seemed to take to life in the Premier League relatively well, scoring five goals in 14 games and giving a laborious, banal Sam Allardyce side some genuine threat up top.

This season, the former Besiktas man has really struggled. Three goals in 20 games across all competitions isn’t good enough for a striker of his calibre and that record looks even worse when you consider that just two of those goals came in the Premier League.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 29: Cenk Tosun of Everton celebrates Lucas Digne after scoring his sides second goal during the Premier League match between Everton FC and Fulham FC at Goodison Park on September 29, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) /

What Tosun does give you, though, is a genuine striker’s instinct up-front and the Turkey international is excellent at creating space for others – just watch his role in Andre Gomes’ goal against Wolves to see how he can drag a defender out of position and play a teammate into that vacated space.

The 27-year-old will happily move across the opposition back-line and test for weaknesses and areas where can allow the likes of Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson do their thing – shown with his 0.88 chances created per 90 minutes this term, the most of Everton’s three striking options – while the end of last season showed just how intuitive Tosun is as a finisher.

He may not be the quickest and probably won’t get you 20 goals per season at this level, but Tosun’s first touch and link-up play is far superior to that of Calvert-Lewin’s and you can’t help but feel his presence will far more effectively unlock Richarlison’s talent, as well as the likes of Theo Walcott and Ademola Lookman on the right-hand side.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

If you only read stats without watching an Everton game, Calvert-Lewin would be the perfect centre-forward. The England U21 international has won 9.4 duels and 5.84 aerial battles per 90 minutes this season, while also scoring six goals for the Blues across all competitions, despite starting just 12 games.

However, those strengths also attribute to his downfall. His mobility and work rate make him a perfect player to sling on from the bench when chips are down, pressing tired defenders, battling for headers and forcing goals when Everton are chasing games.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 21: Dominic Calvert-Lewin of Everton scores his team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Everton FC and Crystal Palace at Goodison Park on October 21, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images) /

Put Calvert-Lewin in from the start, though, and it’s a different story. The 21-year-old’s touch is freakishly bad for such a highly-rated youngster and is a huge factor in him making just 13.45 successful passes per 90 minutes so far this season – fellow mid-table strikers such as Troy Deeney (16.34) and Raul Jimenez (22.05) far out-strip him in this particular area.

To his credit, Calvert-Lewin does have a big chance conversion rate of 50% this season and is a great ‘get out of jail card’ for Silva, should he need it, but speak to any Evertonian down Goodison Road on a Saturday afternoon and they’ll tell you he just doesn’t have ‘it’.


Putting Richarlison through the middle was certainly an option that Silva was right to pursue, but one that just hasn’t worked. The Brazilain is quite temperamental and when things don’t go his way, he tends to drift out of matches.

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To force him through the middle takes so much away from his game and deprives Everton of one of their strongest attacking assets.

Calvert-Lewin, meanwhile, just doesn’t have the touch or finesse to be a starting XI striker in the Premier League. An option from the bench? Certainly.

But start the former Sheffield United man and you often find Everton getting stuck in an endless passing cycle with the tip of their knife blunted.

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND – JULY 26: Marco Silva manager of Everton during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Blackburn Rovers and Everton at Ewood Park on July 26, 2018 in Blackburn, England. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images) /

Tosun may not get the number of goals that a Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero or even a Callum Wilson will, but the Turkish forward has a number of other strengths. He can be a battering ram to wear down opposition centre-backs, he can be the classic No.9 that’ll stay between the posts and poach rebounds or, more importantly, he can shuffle along the front line, pulling defenders all over the place and creating space for Richarlison, Sigurdsson and Co.

Next. Should Everton try to re-sign Lukaku?. dark

Tosun’s long-term Everton future is in some doubt but for the rest of this season, Silva should trust in his experience and intelligence and allow him to unlock the Toffees’ more bountiful forwards.