Tottenham Hotspur forward Richarlison has spoken out about his lack of regular game time under manager Antonio Conte after their elimination from the Champions League.
The Brazilian striker started in Tottenham’s wins against West Ham United and Chelsea, but was dropped to the bench for the third consecutive game in Wednesday’s goalless draw against AC Milan that saw them exit the competition 1-0 on aggregate.
In an explosive post-match interview, Richarlison blasted Conte for dropping him to the bench and questioned the manager’s decision-making. “I didn’t understand – I was playing well, we won against Chelsea and West Ham, and suddenly I was on the bench. I played five minutes against Wolves, asked the reason, and no-one told me why,” said Richarlison.
The 24-year-old also expressed his frustration about the lack of playing time this season, admitting that it has been a “s*** season.” “Apologies for the word but this season is s*** because I don’t have minutes, I suffered a bit from injury, too,” he said.
Richarlison came on as a substitute in the 70th minute against AC Milan with Spurs needing a goal to force extra time, but was unable to make a difference. Tottenham had only two shots on target on Wednesday and failed to score for a third straight game.
Conte, whose contract with Spurs expires this summer, said after the game that he could be sacked before the end of the campaign. “We are out of the biggest club competition, you can’t play like this when needing to score a goal,” he said. “I think he should have put [pushed] the team forward, especially in the second half.”
Since joining Tottenham in a £60 million transfer from Everton last summer, Richarlison has scored only two goals in 25 appearances. He competed at the World Cup in Qatar with Brazil but has struggled with calf and hamstring injuries this season.
“They asked me to take a fitness test in the gym and told me I was going to start if I passed it. And I was on the bench, there are things I can’t understand. There was no explanation again, let’s see what he (Conte) will tell us but I’m not silly – I’m a professional that works hard every day and I want to play,” added Richarlison.
Tottenham Hotspur is set to play Nottingham Forest on Saturday, and it remains to be seen if Richarlison will be included in the starting lineup.