Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte has responded to Richarlison’s explosive interview in which he bemoaned his lack of game time over the course of a ‘s**t’ season.
The Brazil forward joined Spurs for a fee that could rise to a club-record £60m last summer, but he has scarcely featured for them in his debut campaign in north London.
Richarlison has scored just twice in 25 games in all competitions for Tottenham, though has racked up little over 1,000 minutes and has primarily been used out of position as a right winger.
He recently played well in back-to-back starts against London rivals West Ham and Chelsea, but after blanking in their FA Cup exit at the hands of Sheffield United, was relegated back to the bench.
Speaking after Spurs’ Champions League elimination to AC Milan on Wednesday, Richarlison made headlines when he described his first season at the club as ‘s**t’ and criticised Conte’s handling of him.
Conte was asked about Richarlison’s comments ahead of Saturday’s match against Nottingham Forest, using it as an opportunity to criticise the 25-year-old.
“First of all I watched the interview of Richarlison. He didn’t criticise me. He said his season was s**t and he’s right. His season has been not good,” Conte retorted.
“He had injuries, played and scored in the Champions League and then went to the World Cup and then had a serious injury. He’s scored no goals for us. I think he was really honest to say his season was not good. His season has not finished yet. If he deserves to play I’ll give him the opportunity.
“For the rest of the interview, I think he made a mistake. When you speak of ‘I’ and not ‘us’ you are being selfish. I say to my players if we want to build something important and win a trophy we have to speak with ‘we’ not with ‘I’, because otherwise you’re thinking of yourself.
“He made a mistake and he apologised and it was good for me to clarify with the team again about this. In this aspect we have to improve. We have to be more of a team and show more spirit positive, especially in negative moments.
“Sometimes it’s not enough to be a good guy. You have to to show the right desire and fight to win the game and the duels, to be nasty. I think that sometimes we are a bit soft, but I’m the coach and I’m the first responsible for this to happen and it doesn’t happen every time.
“I have to improve the team and I have to improve the spirit of my team. It always happened in the past and I hope it happens here.”