Tottenham Hotspur winger Dejan Kulusevski started this season in fine form, scoring once and assisting twice in five Premier League starts. Richarlison, who was signed from Everton this summer, was restricted to the role of a super-sub during this time, writes the THAB.
Manager Antonio Conte finally decided to hand Richarlison his first start in a Spurs shirt, doing so in the PL against Fulham. The Brazil international had a telling influence, assisting once in a 2-1 win against the Cottagers.
Then, Conte snubbed Kulusevski once again, this time in the UEFA Champions League group stage game against Olympique de Marseille. Richarlison latched onto this opportunity and scored a match-winning brace.
The game against Manchester City was postponed, so Conte had the chance to pick a strong team for the UCL group stage game against Sporting CP. After his performance against the French outfit, it was tough for Conte to drop Richarlison – which he didn’t.
Clinical on the counter-attack ⚡️
Dejan Kulusevski, take a bow 🔥 pic.twitter.com/beLxymxufJ
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) February 19, 2022
However, after that game, Conte admitted he had to break one of his rules when he chatted with Kulusevski to give him an explanation as to why he was being constantly snubbed. The former Italian manager said (h/t Football.London):
“For sure to drop Deki for three games in a row, honestly, for me, it was difficult. I don’t like to give explanations to my players because otherwise in every game I have to speak to one, to another one and another one. I think the most important thing is to have respect about the role.”
Conte then explained that this was only a tactical decision. He wanted three natural centre-forwards up front and Kulusevski is not that. Son Heung-min traditionally plays as a left-winger but he has arguably excelled playing down the middle as well.
“But at the same time, I spoke with Deki because after three times in a row that you go on the bench, I think that he deserved to feel that my trust, my confidence, was like always.”
“But it was only a tactical decision because I wanted a strong impact with the three strikers, Richy, Sonny and Harry. [Deki] is not a striker, he’s a number 10. Only for this reason.”
The Sweden international needs to keep his head up and wait for his chances, because they will come. Spurs take on Leicester City today in the Premier League and this is a good opportunity for Conte to send a message to the misfiring Son.