Real Madrid-linked Richarlison lighting up Brazil's Olympic gold drive

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Brazil and Everton striker Richarlison may be making waves in Tokyo, but recent events back in Rio de Janeiro clearly still rankle.

The forward posed alongside Olympic team-mates Douglas Luiz, Reinier and Matheus Cunha to bid Argentina a fond farewell following their elimination in the tournament's group phase on Wednesday, hours after Brazil themselves had cruised into the quarter-finals with a 3-1 defeat of Saudi Arabia.

Richarlison netted two of his team's goals to take his own personal tally to five in just three games so far in Japan.

As the only member of this squad to have played in July's Copa America final 'Maracanazo' reverse at the hands of Brazil's arch-rivals, whereas Luiz was an unused substitute, he is lacking no little motivation to set the record straight and ensure his nation's Olympic gold medal defence is a success.

Indeed, that unprecedented setback at international level seems to be just one of the scores the immensely talented attacker is out to settle.

The 2020-21 season turned out to be one of missed opportunities for Richarlison. After making a scintillating start to Everton's Premier League season as part of an attacking trident also including James Rodriguez and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the Brazilian and his club eventually floundered and had to settle for a disappointing 10th-placed finish.

Seven goals in 33 league games over the course of the season marked the most modest of returns, just over half of the number he had bagged the previous term.

In the Copa America, despite his bombastic promises – declaring that “We will be champions” in the build-up to July's final – the 24-year-old netted just once. That was against Peru with his side already cruising 3-0 and he was overshadowed not just by Neymar but also the likes of Lucas Paqueta and Gabriel Barbosa as Tite's men lost their crown.

Now though, with that trio enjoying their summer holidays, Richarlison is carrying the attack on his shoulders in Japan – and revelling in his return to scoring form.

Richarlison Brazil GFX

“I am delighted to be scoring goals,” he told reporters after Wednesday's match, which sets up a quarter-final clash on Saturday with Egypt, who pushed Argentina into third place in Group C on goal difference.

“I am taking my chances. We are growing in the competition and now it is kill or be killed, we have to make the least amount of mistakes possible to emerge victorious.”

Should all continue to go to plan, moreover, an intriguing opportunity may be lurking around the corner.

Goal revealed in July that Richarlison's former Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti is keen to take the Brazilian with him to Real Madrid and has already been in touch with his ex-charge to discuss that possibility.

The Merseysiders will not give up their star without a fight, and would expect Madrid to pay dearly for the privilege – at least €90 million (£77m/$107m), according to recent reports.

That figure may prove too steep for the Spanish giants, who are determined to retain as much financial firepower as possible in order to continue their protracted pursuit of Paris Saint-Germain ace Kylian Mbappe.

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For the time being the forward has remained silent on the rumours, preferring to focus all his efforts on first the Copa and now the quest for gold.

That first objective may have proved elusive, but Brazil have every chance of retaining their title, though Mexico and Spain, who have both impressed hugely at the Games, lie in wait as tough potential opposition in the semi-finals and final respectively.

It will not be an easy ask by any means – but with Richarlison in top form the Selecao certainly have the goal-scoring ability to get past any of the remaining teams in Tokyo.