In an interview published by Argentina’s Ole last week, Richarlison – who is currently sidelined due to a knee issue – was asked if he hoped to continue at Everton or had thoughts of going elsewhere.
And the 24-year-old Brazil international said: “I’m always very careful when I talk about it. I have great affection for the people of Everton and for the club, who received me so well from the first day I arrived. I don’t know what the future holds.
“If one day I have to go, it must be good for me, but also for the club. But if I stay, I will continue giving my life for this shirt and for the fans, who have always supported me and were with me at all times. I have enormous gratitude and feel at home when I am at Finch Farm or Goodison Park.”
When Benitez was asked at his press conference on Friday ahead of Saturday’s trip to Manchester United if Everton fans should be concerned about what Richarlison had been saying, he said: “To be fair, yesterday I was having lunch with him, and then he was happy.
“We were talking about the future, about his situation. The main thing is to be sure he is fit, and I was talking with his people and it was a very nice conversation and everything was positive, and the player wants to be fit, to score goals and to do well for us, that’s it.”
As well as Richarlison, Everton will also on Saturday again be without striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin and skipper Seamus Coleman, who have been recovering from quadriceps and hamstring issues respectively.
Benitez said of the pair: “They are training, they are starting on the pitch little by little, but still they are not ready for this game.”
Andre Gomes (calf) and Fabian Delph (shoulder) also remain unavailable, and Benitez revealed Alex Iwobi was a doubt for the Old Trafford contest due to “a little problem”. Jean-Philippe Gbamin can be called upon again following a quadriceps injury of his own.
United head into the match after overcoming Villarreal 2-1 at home in the Champions League on Wednesday, a victory sealed in stoppage time by Cristiano Ronaldo as he netted his fifth goal for the club since rejoining them in August.
Benitez said he was “not really” surprised by Ronaldo still being able to have the impact he has had at the age of 36, adding: “When I was coaching him at Real Madrid, he was one of the best professionals.
“He was always training well, always available, always taking care of his body. I think it was an example as a professional.”
Everton and United currently lie fifth and fourth in the Premier League respectively, both on 13 points from six games, one point behind leaders Liverpool.
Benitez was asked if he felt settled in at Everton following his appointment over the summer, and the former Liverpool boss said: “I’m at home because a lot of people here have treated me really well from day one.
“We are working hard, we are improving things and everybody is happy with the way things are going on. So really I am feeling that I am at home.”