Seven players who fell out with Antonio Conte: Costa, Buffon, Willian…
Tottenham forward Richarlison has hit out at manager Antonio Conte in an explosive new interview – and it’s safe to say he’s not the first footballer to criticise the Italian.
“This season, excuse the word, it’s been shit because I don’t have minutes, I suffered a little with the injury,” Richarlison told Brazilian outlet TNT Sports after Spurs’ Champions League exit.
“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.”
It will be interesting to see how Conte reacts to the Brazilian’s comments, but this isn’t exactly his first rodeo. Here are seven other high-profile fallouts he’s had…
The snarling striker was absolutely brilliant as the spearhead of Conte’s title-winning Chelsea of 2016-17, scoring 20 goals to fire the Blues to their last Premier League title.
Despite that, Conte decided to get rid of Costa at the end of the campaign.
“Hi Diego, I hope you are well. Thanks for the season we spent together. Good luck for the next year, but you are not in my plan,” Conte texted him during the summer of 2017.
Awkwardly, Costa ended up staying put at Stamford Bridge until January but was omitted from Conte’s plans as Chelsea put up a meek title defence, eventually finishing fifth in 2017-18.
“It was a moment of madness. It can happen, but I thought it was disrespectful,” Costa recalled.
“I always asked to speak face to face with the coach and the board. I never sent [them] text messages, so it shows what kind of person he is. If something makes me sad about this situation, it’s [the fans’] affection as they’d always supported me, even during the delicate moments.
Like his Brazilian compatriot Costa, Willian felt frustration at not featuring in Conte’s first-team plans. He played a peripheral role in the 2017-18 campaign and was only brought on for the final minute of Chelsea’s FA Cup final victory over Manchester United.
When posting a picture of the celebrations, Willian covered up the manager with three emojis. He tried to blame it on his daughter – one of football’s most ludicrous excuses – but later came clean.
“When I saw that picture of the whole team, something happened in my mind,” Willian told the Daily Mail.
“I just don’t know what. I just knew that if he stayed at the club I would have to leave. It wasn’t possible to work with him again.
“So I decided to do the picture. I didn’t expect it to go ‘bang’ everywhere after five minutes. But then everyone in Brazil was talking about it, and in England.
“Conte was actually a good coach. We won the title. But the way he managed the team was different. You have to know that I am not the same as Diego [Costa] or David [Luiz] and they are not the same as me.”
Willian explained why he had covered up Antonio Conte in his controversial Instagram post… 🤔 pic.twitter.com/bDY9ZZUFP6
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 8, 2018
The signing of Luiz proved vital in Chelsea’s title victory of 2016-17 as the Brazilian produced arguably the best football of his career at the heart of Conte’s patented back three.
But he was one of a trio of Brazilians to fall out of favour in that fractious year two.
“This can happen to every one of my players, if I see that they are not in good form,” Conte warned after dropping the key defender. “It’s normal. I repeat, I have to put my face in every situation, and then to make important decisions.”
“If the manager had stayed the same, of course, everybody knows maybe I had to move clubs,” Luiz said, having outlasted Conte at Stamford Bridge and regained his spot under successor Maurizio Sarri.
The veteran Italian ‘keeper enjoyed great success under Conte at Juventus, starring between the sticks as the Old Lady claimed three successive Scudetti between 2011 and 2014.
But Conte did not take kindly to Buffon jokily asking about bonuses during a video review session as the Old Lady closed in on a historic 100-point tally at the end of the 2013-14 campaign.
“I don’t want to hear another word,” Conte is said to have screamed.
“From you, of all people, I would never have expected such a thing. Bonuses … You’re a disappointment, a defeat from the moment you open your mouth. Just like all the rest of these half-wits.”
Pirlo didn’t appear to have any particular beef with Conte. In fact, he has great respect for his methods – he once called him “the best coach I ever worked with”.
However, he didn’t mince his words when it came to the coach’s brutal man-management.
“Even when we’re winning, Conte comes in and hurls (things) against the wall,” the legendary playmaker wrote in his autobiography.
“His words assault you. They crash through the doors of your mind, often quite violently, and settle deep within you.”
Quite frankly that sounds utterly terrifying.
The Argentinian striker’s partnership with Romelu Lukaku was a key pillar of Inter’s 2020-21 Scudetto triumph that ended Juventus’ nine years of dominance at the summit of Serie A.
But Martinez’s relationship with his manager wasn’t all roses and sunshine. He reacted furiously to being substituted in a vital match in the title run-in.
“Have respect! Who are you angry with? Never react like this again,” Conte sternly told Martinez.
To be fair, there doesn’t appear to be any lingering resentment between the pair. Shortly afterwards they settled their differences – in the ring.
🥊 | IN THE RING
For those who want to know how today's boxing showdown ended… 😉 pic.twitter.com/ITFJyCwiUn
— Inter (@Inter_en) May 13, 2021
Tottenham’s record signing struggled to live up to his price tag under Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho, and Conte also found himself unable to get the best out of him.
Ndombele was made to train alone before being sent back to Lyon on loan for the latter half of the 2021-22 campaign.
“It was strange because it means something went wrong in the past,” Conte said of the decision.
“It was strange, I repeat in January to send four on loan, and sell one player. It means maybe in the past, you have to see what you did. And maybe to understand that there were some mistakes in the past.”
“When you’re not playing a lot, when you don’t appreciate the style of play there is, you lose your taste for football,” responded Ndombele.
The French midfielder remains on Spurs’ books but is currently out on loan at Serie A champions-elect Napoli. Might he outlast Conte at his parent club?
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