By Noel Whelan

13th Jul, 2021 | 4:00pm

Benitez warned of severe Everton fan backlash as Richarlison exit talks reported - pundit

Noel Whelan has claimed Everton fans will be calling for Rafael Benitez’s head if Richarlison is sold this summer.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested the Spaniard needs to use his “magic man-management” to keep the 24-year-old on board.

As reported by Goal (July 6th), former Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti has held conversations with Richarlison over a possible move to Real Madrid.

It is said the Italian boss called the versatile forward while he was on international duty with Brazil.

Richarlison still has three years on his contract at Goodison Park.

Whelan suggested Benitez could find it “very difficult” to convince the Brazilian to remain on Merseyside.

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Whelan told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge: “Can you afford to lose Ancelotti and Richarlison in one summer? It’s very difficult, isn’t it?

“I’m not sure what Everton fans would think about that. A very difficult one to kind of get your head around and very difficult for Rafa Benitez as well.

“People will be calling for his head straight away if they actually allow this to materialise. He’s a very good player, no doubt about it. You need players like that.

“If Everton are going to go that next level you need to show commitment to the cause, the cause being they want to break into the top four. To do that you need players like Richarlison.

“You need to have those big players on your books. You need to add players next to these fantastic players they’ve already got.

“There’s a lot of work that Rafa Benitez has to do before the start of the season. He has to show these players that they’re at the right club, that he doesn’t need to leave. Give us another season, let’s see where it takes us.

“He’s gonna have to put his magical man-management skills to the test straight away with these players.

“To assure them that the club is going in the right direction and they will be fighting for honours in one way or another.

“Whether it be cup competitions, fighting for a European spot at the end of the season like West Ham did, there’s no reason why they can’t do that.”

In other news, Benitez working on luring ex-Liverpool lieutenant to Everton.