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Benitez explains Everton approach against Ronaldo; reveals Richarlison talks

Rafa Benitez has warned Everton not to lose focus on dangers other than Cristiano Ronaldo when they play Manchester United, while also providing an update on one of his own star forwards.

Benitez takes his troops to face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday for the Premier League’s lunchtime kick-off. The two sides go into the game level on points, having each won four of their opening six games with one draw and one defeat.

This will be Benitez’s toughest test yet as Everton boss, though. Even though friendly results mean little, they lost 4-0 to United in their last fixture of pre-season this summer.

In competitive action, United will again give Everton plenty of work to do if they are to come away from Old Trafford with a positive result. The added presence of Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the sport’s all-time greats, will only complicate things for the visitors.

But Benitez does not want his defence to only think about Ronaldo, whom he used to work with at Real Madrid and has fond memories of.

The Everton manager said at his pre-match press conference: “You cannot concentrate just on one player even when it is someone like Cristiano, because anyone of the others can score goals.

“I coached him at Real Madrid and he was one of the best professionals. Working hard, training well, taking care of his body. A real example as a professional.”

Everton have talented attackers of their own, whom they will be counting on for Saturday’s game. One man who will be unavailable, though, is Richarlison.

Prolific in recent years, the Brazilian has been the subject of speculation recently. Earlier this week, he cast doubt on his future by saying he has “great affection” for Everton but may “have to go” in future, only if it is suitable for all parties.

Benitez revealed he has met with the 24-year-old and insisted they are on the same page.

He said: “Yesterday I had lunch with him and he was happy.

“We talked about the future and his situation. It was a very nice conversation and everything was positive.”

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Benitez provides Everton team news

Richarlison is one of four first-team players Benitez named as unavailable for Saturday’s game. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Seamus Coleman and Andre Gomes will also skip it.

Benitez confirmed: “They are not ready yet. They are on the pitch little by little but they are not ready for this game. They continue working, they are getting better.”

Elsewhere, the Spanish tactician said Alex Iwobi is a doubt due to a “little” injury. However, some relief comes with the availability of Jean-Philippe Gbamin, who has endured a nightmare spell on Merseyside with injuries.

Benitez is glad to have him in contention, though, saying: “It’s good news because we needed bodies.”

Gbamin is yet to feature in the Premier League this season after only making one appearance in the competition last term.

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