Antonio Conte defends Richarlison following brief feud
Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte has provided context as to why Richarlison has struggled in his debut season at the club following what appeared to be a brief feud between the pair.
The Brazil forward joined Spurs from Everton last summer for a fee that could rise to £60m. While he has scored just two goals in 26 games for his new side, Richarlison has largely appeared from the bench or out of position.
After Tottenham were eliminated from the Champions League by AC Milan on Wednesday, Richarlison gave an interview with Brazilian media insisting he's had a 's**t' first season in north London and criticising the coaching staff for their handling of him.
Conte was asked about these comments in a press conference on Friday, laughing them off and deflecting them back at Richarlison, agreeing that he has had a 's**t' season.
Surprisingly, the 25-year-old was then named in the starting lineup for Spurs' Premier League match at home to Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
He thought he had made the perfect start when he raced through on goal and fired into the roof of Keylor Navas' net inside three minutes, but after a very lengthy VAR check, it was ruled out for the very tightest of offsides.
However, Richarlison would have a huge say in all of Spurs' goals in an eventual 3-1 win and was given a standing ovation for a tremendous performance.
Conte was asked about Richarlison post-match, with it put to him that he could have easily gone hiding after a turbulent week.
"Yeah but don't forget Richarlison started the season really well and at the start of the season after maybe three games he started to play regularly. He played really well. He didn't score. He scored only in Champions League but he was many, many times in the starting XI," Conte retorted.
"Then he had a serious injury in his calf and the guy was really scared to lose the World Cup [place] if you remember. Then he recovered for the World Cup and then in the World Cup he had another serious injury. He came back after the World Cup and stayed one month to recover after this injury and then he struggled a bit.
"He had other physical problems but I repeat the coach is not so stupid. All the coaches are not so stupid to not start the best XI to not win. It doesn't care if Sonny, Kane, or Richarlison or Moura or Kulusevski or Danjuma, I want to win and then at the same time I have to take the responsibility to take the best decision, because if one player needs time to be recover and fit but we need to get points and we need to win every game.
"I understand that if you speak with the players of the whole teams, they want to play every game, every game, every game and also when they are tired. It is not fair this because I repeat we have to try to make the best decision and we want to protect the players sometimes. If we see the player tired and then he goes to play because he wants to play and then he gets the injury. He stay one month, two months out and yeah, he is relaxed and I am stressing. I am under stress. It is too easy this.
"I think in England many times you don't understand this and you think they have to play, the 11 players they always have to play. A strong team, a top team needs 16, 17 or 18."