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Tottenham boss Antonio Conte said Richarlison was being “selfish” when he criticised the team and questioned his manager following the club’s exit from the Champions League, and said he agreed with the forward’s assessment that he has had a “s***” season.
Richarlison made the comments in the aftermath of Tottenham’s aggregate loss to AC Milan on Wednesday, which condemned Spurs to a 15th consecutive season without a trophy. The Brazilian, a £60m signing from Everton last summer, lashed out at Conte over a lack of game time and said: “This season – and forgive my language – has been s***.”
Richarlison has started just seven of Tottenham’s 26 games in the Premier League and has yet to score in the competition. Conte said the 25-year-old had apologised for giving the explosive interview to Brazilian TV but the Italian expressed his disappointment at how the striker talked about himself instead of the team.
Conte, who said he is “ready to die” for Tottenham until the end of the season amid speculation over his own future, said: “First of all, I watched the interview of Richarlison and he didn’t criticise me. He said, ‘my season is s***’, and he is right because his season is not good because he had a lot of injuries.
“He started well with us, he then had an injury in the Champions League and then he went to the World Cup and he had another serious injury. He came back and stayed one month out. Then another injury.
“He scored zero goals with us (in the Premier League), only two goals in the Champions League and I think the guy was really honest to tell that his season is not good.
“Then if you ask me for the rest of the interview I think that the guy understood very well that he made a mistake because when you speak with ‘I, I and I’, not with us, it means you are thinking only about yourself and you are selfish.
“The guy understood very well and he apologised and for me it was good because I had an opportunity to clarify for another time the importance of the spirit of the team.”
Conte’s contract at Tottenham will expire in the summer and the under-pressure Italian is expected to leave at the end of his deal. Tottenham are fourth in the Premier League and Conte is set to be given the chance to help Spurs qualify for next season’s Champions League over the final 12 games of the campaign.
“You know with the club we signed a contract, a strange contract – one year and a half. Usually you sign a contract for three years but I think it was for the club and also for myself to see the situation,” Conte explained.
“Now after one year and a half, the club knows me, I know the club and it is clear this situation.
“For this reason I repeat, we have to finish the season and then we will see. The club knows very well what are my thoughts. I am ready to die for this club until the end of the season.”