After watching him train, Ritchie also believes the Brazilian has “got everything a top striker needs”, saying he’s also ‘growing in confidence’ off the pitch and ‘building relationships’ in the dressing room.
This comes after the 23-year-old was heavily criticised following our 3-1 defeat at Norwich last weekend. He was isolated up top, but his touch and poor hold up play was poor – however Ritchie is still backing him.
Here’s what he’s had to say about the £40m striker ahead of this weekend’s trip to Tottenham:
“He’s been fantastic in training,”
“He’s a really nice lad. In the last couple of weeks you’ve seen him grow in confidence in the dressing room and building relationships. Obviously, that always helps, and hopefully we’ve helped him settle.
“He looks like he’s got everything a top striker needs, and hopefully he can fulfil his potential here.”
“It’s brilliant for me. He wants to attack the first post. He’s good in the air. He’s got good movement.
“I spoke to him, and I think he knows if it does come to me, at the earliest opportunity I’ll put it in the box, and hopefully he’ll get on the end of them. It’s down to me to put balls in good areas, and I know he’ll be there.”
“He’s new to this league, and, like anyone who comes over here, he has to get used to it.
“He’s finding out what it is all about, but we’ve already seen in training that he has a lot of qualities, and I’m sure we’ll see them on the pitch before too long.”
Joelinton may not have looked like a top striker in the first two games of the season, but it’s worth noting that he looked everything that Ritchie has described here in pre-season.
It may have been in friendlies, but he showed great movement, decent pace, sharp touches and clever link up play in the games I saw him in vs Hibernian and St Etienne, so I won’t be jumping on his back any time soon – especially when he’s been left SO isolated up top in our opening two games.
Let’s hope he comes good and is given time to do so.