Tottenham Hotspur forward Richarlison has criticised manager Antonio Conte over his lack of regular game time following their elimination from the Champions League.
Richarlison started in wins against West Ham United and Chelsea but was dropped to the bench for a third consecutive game in Wednesday’s goalless draw against AC Milan that saw them exit 1-0 on aggregate.
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“I’m a professional, I work every day and I want to play. I’m missing minutes, missing time,” Richarlison, who came on as a substitute in the 70th minute, said postmatch. “Apologies for the word but this season is s— because I don’t have minutes, I suffered a bit from injury, too.”
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.
He said his form had improved and is baffled by Conte’s team selection, adding: “I was on a good run, with two wins against West Ham and Chelsea, and suddenly he [Conte] put me on the bench. Against Wolves, he put me in five minutes. I asked why and they didn’t tell me anything.
“[On Tuesday] I was asked to take a test at the gym. He [Conte] told me that, if I was good, I would go to the game. When it was game time, he put me on the bench. These are things you can’t understand.
“When I enter the pitch, I give my life. I came from two good games, mainly against Chelsea, where I played the full 90 minutes, and we won the game. I guess I should have played [from the start against Milan].”
Needing to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the opening leg in Italy to progress to the quarterfinals of the Champions League, Spurs just had 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.
Richarlison took aim at Conte’s tactics for Tottenham’s trouble in front of goal.
“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.”
Despite his criticism of Conte, Richarlison said he can still make a positive impact this season.
“The club paid dearly for me and so far, I haven’t responded on the pitch,” he said. “Of course, the injuries hindered me a little … Let’s see if he [Conte] puts me in the starting line-up for the next game.
“I will focus on our next [Premier League] games and score as many goals as possible.”
Spurs, who crashed out of the FA Cup in the fifth round with a 1-0 loss at Sheffield United on March 1, are fourth in the Premier League heading into Saturday’s game against Nottingham Forest.