Antonio Conte is building a squad of Spurs s***houses and £60m transfer signing Richarlison will ruffle some feathers
ANTONIO CONTE wants Tottenham to cut out the nicey-nicey, so Richarlison’s s***house streak was always going to appeal.
The Brazilian firecracker has a bit of devilment that is seen as a welcome addition to a Spurs squad with a squeaky-clean image.
Thirty yellow cards and two reds in five seasons playing up front in the Premier League proves as much.
Like his infamous goal celebration in May when he lobbed a lit flare back into the Everton crowd after a vital goal against Chelsea.
He is still under investigation for the incident by the FA, who charged him, so he could yet be suspended for the start of the season.
Obviously, Spurs will not want their new man getting into that sort of trouble. But Conte does admire that he plays on the edge.
And the Italian loves how much the former Watford kid hates losing, which is a trait he has been instilling in Tottenham’s trophyless players since arriving in November.
In fact, the club is barely recognisable from the one that appointed Nuno Espirito Santo a year ago yesterday.
Speaking in April, as his methods began to propel Spurs towards Champions League football, Conte said: “I’m starting to feel that the players start to hate to lose. This is very important. The process is complete when after a defeat you go to your house and you are angry.”
Richarlison, 25, would have been familiar with that last season as Everton only just avoided relegation.
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He dug Frank Lampard’s Toffees out of the mire with six goals in the final nine league games.
That makes him a proven match-winner, with five years of experience in England’s top flight.
Spurs value that so highly they will make Richarlison their second most expensive player ever behind £65million Tanguy Ndombele.
They see Richarlison competing with Dejan Kulusevski for a spot in Conte’s starting front three alongside Harry Kane, 28, and Son Heung-min, 29 — and the 36-capped Samba star can also fill in for either.
In a season bloated by the winter World Cup — as well as the reintroduction of the five-sub rule — that flexibility is worth its weight in gold.
Packing six Champions League group games in before the Qatar kick-off on November 21 means two games a week from August to November.
Neither Kane nor Son had long lay-offs last term but Spurs cannot expect such luck again.
Conte knows Liverpool and Manchester City have a wealth of attacking options to turn to.
Next season’s target is not to challenge for a title — but that is the long-term ambition and boosting options with a player of Richarlison’s quality is key to that.
Yes, he does not come cheap but Spurs feel £50million plus £10m in add-ons is his market price.
And, aged 25, he will still have resale value if he reaches new heights under Conte, even with that less of a necessity for Spurs now.
Tottenham relaxed their strategy of signing young players with big sell-on potential in a bid to appease their feisty manager.
Ivan Perisic is in at 33 — proving to Conte, who won Serie A with the Croatian at Inter Milan, that they are willing to do what it takes to compete now.
Spurs have also held talks with Barcelona over a loan move for experienced centre-back Clement Lenglet, 27.
A deal is yet to be reached for the France ace and Tottenham could move for other targets.
One is England Under-21 wing-back Djed Spence but Middlesbrough’s valuation is seen as too high.
Harry Winks, Giovani Lo Celso, Steven Bergwijn and Ndombele are available for transfer as Conte looks to build the squad in his mould.
And Richarlison is a big statement he is willing to ruffle a few feathers.