Among the many reasons why Everton star Richarlison draws a lot of attention on social media, for the past couple of months there’s been added controversy about his relationship with Argentina.

The Brazilian is often seen provoking and joining arguments against his South American neighbours, having become some sort of key figure in the rivalry between the national teams.

Richarlison, however, doesn’t want that fight to become too serious. That’s why Olé, the most important sports newspaper in Argentina, features a front page where the forward says ‘I want to be friends with the Argentines’.

The Everton player explained the whole situation, claiming he loves the ‘folklore’ that surrounds the rivalry.

“It all started because I said, in an interview before the final, that we were going to go out to the pitch to win. And what did they want me to say? I don’t even like to lose in video games, can you imagine a final of the Copa América against Argentina, at the Maracanã?” Richarlison told Olé.

“When the game ended, the Argentines started posting memes on my Twitter, with my photo crying and refuting my interview. Paredes provoked me when I scored the hat-trick in the Olympic Games against Germany, asking ‘and in the final?’, And I responded. When Argentina was eliminated at the Olympics, we replicated the photo with Douglas, and De Paul posted a photo mocking me, then deleted. Life goes on. It’s the great football classic, the best game in the world, in which every player dreams of being. This rivalry will never die. A little folklore doesn’t hurt anyone.”

Embed from Getty Images

Regarding the comments made by Paris Saint German star Angel Di Maria, who claimed Richarlison was fighting alone, the Everton player showed his side of the story.

“Di Maria was one of the first to add fuel to the fire. He was one of those who provoked me when I scored the goals at the opening of the Olympic Games. But that’s what I said: everything is normal, I take it easy. I’m not offended or angry at anyone for jokes on social media. Neither of him, De Paul, Paredes and much less the Argentine fans that play with me.

“When we enter the field, we kill ourselves for our colours. Me for Brazil and they for Argentina. And I put on the Brazil jersey like I’m fighting over a plate of food. It will always be like this. However, we are adversaries and not enemies. One day we can defend the same colours in a club and I want to be friends with the boys, learn from them, they’re great players. When we play against Argentina, you provoke from there and we from here. Nobody has to demonise this, these games will always be part of football. As long as they are healthy and respectful, of course. But I sincerely hope that from now on we have many more reasons to smile than you do.”

Finally, Richarlison accepts that Argentina deserved to win the Copa America in Brazil. And he doesn’t think a win over the rivals in the World Cup qualifiers would be any kind of revenge.

“Justice in football is with the ball in the net, right? Any analysis you do here will sound arrogant or sound like I’m a sore loser, so I better focus on learning from what went wrong and winning next time. Argentina deserved to be champion.”