Following Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 elimination, Tottenham Hotspur striker Richarlison criticised manager Antonio Conte, questioning the Italian’s choice to bench him and claiming the north London club had a “crap” season.
After failing to score in both legs, AC Milan knocked out Spurs from the UEFA Champions League, progressing to the Champions League quarter-finals on with a 1-0 aggregate.
Richarlison, who joined Spurs in the off-season for a reported £60 million, has struggled to find playing time under Conte and appeared for just the final 20 minutes of his team’s 0-0 home tie with Milan.
Richarlison comments on Antonio Conte
After a frustrating 180 minutes of football over the two legs, Tottenham striker looked unhappy in the post match press conference, and didn’t hold back with his assessment of Spurs’ dismal season as well as questioning boss Antonio Conte’s selection.
The Brazilian ace said: “This season, excuse the word, it’s been s*** because I don’t have minutes and I suffered a little with the injury.
“When I enter the field, I give my life. I came from two games well, I think that’s it, I think I should have played and I don’t have to cry about it.”
He said his form had improved and is baffled by Conte’s starting XI calls in the last week or so, adding: “I didn’t understand… I was playing well, we won against Chelsea and West Ham (United) and suddenly I was on the bench. I played five minutes against Wolves, asked the reason and no one told me why.
“On Tuesday, they asked me to take a fitness test in the gym and told me I was going to start Wednesday 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 on Thursday but I’m not silly, I’m a professional that works hard every day and I want to play.”
“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].”
Conte, whose contract in North London set to come to an end at the end of the season, and has yet to commit his long-term future to the club, said after the game that he could be fired before the end of the season.
Richarlison blamed Conte’s approach for Tottenham’s offensive woes, which resulted in their elimination from the competition with a whimper and left the team with nothing to play for this season other than a top-four finish.
“We are out of the biggest club competition, you can’t play like this when needing to score a goal,” he continued. “I think he should have put [pushed] the team forward, especially in the second half.”
“The club paid dearly for me and so far, I haven’t responded on the pitch,” he added. “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.”
Richarlison scored three goals for Brazil at the World Cup, but has struggled with calf and hamstring injuries this season.
The 25-year-old has only scored two goals for Tottenham this season, and is yet to break his duck in the Premier League, with Spurs top-four hopes hanging by a thread.