LONDON - Tottenham Hotspur forward Richarlison criticized manager Antonio Conte following Wednesday's Champions League last-16 exit, questioning the Italian's decision to bench him while declaring the north London club has had a "shit" season.
Spurs were knocked out of Europe's premier cup competition by AC Milan after failing to score in both legs as the Serie A club progressed 1-0 on aggregate.
Richarlison, who was signed by Spurs in the close season in a deal worth $71.21 million, has found game time hard to come by under Conte and played only the last 20 minutes against Milan in the 0-0 draw at home.
"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," Richarlison told TNT Sports Brazil. "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."
"ESSA TEMPORADA ESTÁ SENDO UMA MERDA!" Rapaz, o Richarlison ficou pistola depois da eliminação do Tottenham na Champions. E teve recado pro treinador Antonio Conte também... Confira! #CasaDaChampions
— TNT Sports BR (@TNTSportsBR) March 8, 2023
Richarlison netted three times for Brazil at the World Cup but has scored only two goals for Tottenham this season and the 25-year-old has yet to open his account for the club in the Premier League, where they are fourth.
He lamented Spurs' insipid attack against Milan as they failed to test the Italian side, exiting the competition with a whimper, leaving the club nothing to play for this term apart from securing a top-four finish.
"This season — and forgive my language — has been shit," Richarlison said, adding his focus was now on getting into the starting lineup when Spurs host Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
"I'll try to score as many goals as I can because the club has paid a lot of money for me and I haven't given enough back on the pitch yet. Fair to say my injuries didn't help and I haven't had enough minutes."
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru and Joao Manuel Mauricio in Gdansk; Editing by Ken Ferris)