Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte has warned Son Heung-min that he is not undroppable after an underwhelming start to the season.
The 30-year-old shared the Premier League’s Golden Boot with Mohamed Salah last season and scored 28 goals in all competitions for club and country, but is yet to get off the mark in his seven 2022/23 outings.
Son’s performances as a whole have fallen way short of the standards he set himself last season, when Conte admitted that he would have been ‘crazy’ to even consider resting or dropping the South Korean because of his form.
But with Dejan Kulusevski’s January arrival backed up by the £60m signing of Richarlison, Conte now has added firepower at his disposal should he wish to rotate and change things.
Speaking ahead of Spurs’ Champions League tie with Sporting CP, Conte admitted when asked about Son’s place in the team that he’s no longer the guaranteed starter that he once was, and reiterated the importance of having different options to come off the bench.
“I think when you try to build something important, when you try to build something with ambition and try to be competitive and fight to win, you have to change old habits, otherwise it means you want to stay in balance and it means you don’t want to have ambition.
“For this reason all the players have to accept the rotation especially up front, we have four players. For me especially it’s very difficult right now to drop one of these four players, but I have to make the best decision for the team, also for the players.
“Sometimes it’s better to rest and don’t start a game, to come in and play only 20 or 30 minutes and then play the following games.
“For sure I’m here to try to change the old habit. The old habit was that the players were used to playing in every game. What happened in this type of situation is that you don’t have great possibilities to win.
“You try to make the players happy, but big clubs have a big squad, a deep squad. In this moment we don’t have a big squad but we have just started to try to follow this path.
“For this reason what happens with one of these four players will be normal and you have to know it’s good for a coach like me to have these options.”
“For sure I think every manager likes this kind of problem.
“For sure I have the possibility to pick three important players and know that I have another player on the bench who is ready to come on and help us, like in the last game against Marseille.
“It was 0-0, I decided to put Kulusevski into the pitch and to keep also the three strikers to become more offensive. I think this is an important solution for me.”