By 90Min
April 21, 2018

On an afternoon which Anthony Martial spent preparing for an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, the man who has been pegged to replace him at Old Trafford sat on Watford's bench 10 miles up the road. 

Richarlison's benching for the Hornets coincided almost perfectly with the links to Manchester United beginning to pop up, but it would be a mistake to conflate them. The simple fact is that the Brazilian has just one assist and no goals in 23 games since his lightning start to the season, and there are wide players there who Javi Gracia feels are better than him. 

One of them is Roberto Pereyra, who was very good on Saturday, and the other is Will Hughes, who was not. 

United need nothing more or less than a shirtless Michael B. Jordan (and don't we all?), pointing at Richarlison's directionless runs and miscontrolled touches and shouting 'Is this your wing? The bright young thing that's supposed to lead you into the future, huh?'

Let's be clear - it's still possible that the young Brazilian could become that. But when, in your squad, you have one of the most dynamic playmakers on the planet, why would you? Javi Gracia has admitted recently that the man who lit up the first quarter of Watford's campaign is keen for more time on the pitch, and duly gave him 35 minutes at Vicarage Road on Saturday. After 15 of them, he had touched the ball once.

There was, of course, another exciting winger on the pitch in Hertfordshire - and more often than not, face down on it. Wilfried Zaha took a tumble in the Watford box just before half-time and spent the rest of the match being called a cheat. 

Far from that keeping him on his feet, the Ivorian ended up going down under contact time and again in the second half, to the point that referee Chris Kavanagh felt he had no choice but to show a yellow card for simulation when Zaha went down in the box in a crowd of legs. 

A generous observer might point to the fact that a heavy shower just before half-time had made the surface somewhat treacherous, a couple of players slipping on the turf around the same time that Zaha solidified his relationship with the floor. A less generous observer - and there were more than a few in attendance - would likely counter that when Zaha went down for the penalty, he was jumping. It's very hard to slip on wet grass when you're in mid-air. 

Despite the sideshow of his ongoing battle with the crowd though, Zaha - and Ruben Loftus-Cheek alongside him - did so often what Richarlison failed to in his own performance. They beat players. They went past defenders. Zaha has turned embarrassing full-backs into an art form over the last 12 months, while the Watford man more or less entirely failed to trouble Joel Ward - who had been put in real trouble by Pereyra earlier in the game and spent most of the match on a yellow card. 

One interception from a loose pass in midfield gave him a country mile of space, players making runs and time to pick them out. The threaded ball never made it within 10 yards of a yellow shirt, instead zipping straight through to the grateful Wayne Hennessey. 

Even as the rumours pick up ahead of a busy summer, it's becoming increasingly clear. Richarlison has a lot more to do to earn a move anywhere else in the Premier League, never mind to Old Trafford.

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