Richarlison has hit out at Tottenham over his lack of playing time this season and says he does not understand the treatment he has received.
Richarlison, who was signed from Everton for £60m in the summer, was brought on after 70 minutes on Wednesday as Spurs’ stalemate at home to AC Milan saw them crash out of the Champions League 1-0 on aggregate.
Spurs were booed off by supporters after a limp performance which confirmed their trophy drought would stretch to a 16th year, putting the futures of striker Harry Kane and head coach Antonio Conte under the spotlight.
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Danny Rose reflects on the situation at Tottenham, following the club’s Champions League exit, leading to another season without a trophy
Richarlison showed his frustration after the game as he criticised the way his game time has been handled in an explosive interview with TNT Sports Brazil.
“It was going well, in a good sequence, two wins against West Ham and Chelsea,” he said. “Suddenly, he put me on the bench, against Wolverhampton he put me on for five minutes. I asked why, but they didn’t tell me anything.
“And, yesterday, they asked me to take a test at the gym, that if I was good I would go to the game and, at the time of the game, they left me on the bench. These are things that it is not possible to understand.
“Let’s see what he will say tomorrow, but there are no fools here either, I’m a professional, I work every day and I want to play.”
The Brazil striker has become accustomed to starting from the bench, playing an average of just under 45 minutes across his 25 appearances, managing just two goals in that time across all competitions.
Richarlison showed his eye for goal at the World Cup in Qatar – leaving as Brazil’s top scorer with four goals – but has failed to find form at Spurs and is yet to score in the Premier League.
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He added: “This season, excuse the word, it’s been s*** because I don’t have minutes, I suffered a little with the injury. But, 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.”
Analysis: Richarlison entitled to feel aggrievedSky Sports’ Nick Wright:
Antonio Conte and the Tottenham hierarchy will feel Richarlison should have voiced his concerns privately rather than in public but the Brazilian is entitled to feel aggrieved.
He arrived as a club’s record signing and yet, seven months into the season, he has only started 12 games in all competitions and only started consecutive Premier League fixtures twice.
His performances have been mixed but the lack of consistent playing time is not conducive to building up rhythm and it is worth noting Spurs generally perform better with him in the team.
Richarlison has spent more minutes on the bench than on the pitch
Indeed, so far this season they have eight victories from the 12 games he has started, compared to only 11 from the 26 he has not, their win rate dropping from 67 per cent to 42 per cent.
There was of course an injury before the World Cup. He also came to the club knowing he would face strong competition for a place from Heung-Min Son and Dejan Kulusevski in support of Harry Kane.
But that pair have hardly pulled up trees this season, mustering only seven Premier League goals in 42 appearances between them. If Richarlison does not get more of a chance now, when will he?
That is the question he has been left to ask himself and now it has spilled out in public. Tottenham will not like it, but Richarlison’s frustration is understandable.