Richarlison was “selfish” and “made a mistake” in an interview following Tottenham’s Champions League exit, says manager Antonio Conte.
But while Conte believes Richarlison did not criticise him, he agrees that his season “has been not good”.
“He is right”, said the Italian.
“He started well with us, he then had an injury and went to the World Cup and had another serious injury.
“He’s scored zero goals with us [in the Premier League], only two goals in the Champions League and the guy was really honest to say his season was not good.
“His season has not finished yet. If he deserves to play I’ll give him the opportunity.”
Brazil international Richarlison joined Spurs from Everton in a £60m deal last summer but has since started just seven games in the Premier League.
His playing time in the Premier League this season totals 661 minutes, with his only goals for the club coming against Marseille in the Champions League in September.
He believed he should have started in Wednesday’s 0-0 draw – which saw Milan progress on aggregate – instead of coming on as a 70th-minute substitute.
Conte said: “I think [the] guy understood he made a mistake because when you speak with I, I and I, not ‘us’, it means you are thinking only about yourself and you are selfish.
“I repeat to my players, if we want to build something important, fight for something important, fight to be competitive and win a trophy, we have to speak with ‘we’.
“If we speak I, I and I, we are only thinking about himself. The guy understood very well and apologised, which is good because I had an opportunity to clarify for another time the spirit of the team.”
‘I’m ready to die for this club’
Spurs are fourth in the Premier League and in a week in which they exited the FA Cup as well as Europe, speculation around Conte’s future at the north London club remains rife.
After signing an 18-month deal when he was appointed in 2021, the 53-year-old’s contract is due to expire at the end of the season.
But despite Spurs’ failure to score in their last three games and ongoing criticism, Conte insists he is focused on the job at hand.
Speaking before Saturday’s Premier League match against Nottingham Forest, Conte said: “If you ask me now am I ready now to die for this club? Yes. Until the end I am ready to die for this club. But I am not so stupid to kill myself.
“With the club we signed a contract, a strange contract, one year and a half. Usually you sign for three years but I think it was for the club and for myself to see the situation.
“We have to finish the season and then we will see.”
Despite maintaining his commitment to the club, the Italian acknowledges fans have run out of patience with his faltering side.
His players were booed off the pitch by a section of the home support at the end of each half in Wednesday’s defeat by Milan.
“The patience of the fans has finished and we feel this,” he said.
“For sure, this has not helped the situation. I ask for time and patience but I see that the patience has finished. Maybe the fans are right, but you don’t build the win in one day.”