Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has admitted Son Heung-min is “angry” and lacks confidence, but has supported him to do what top players do and overcome his goal drought.
The Spurs forward continued his poor start to the new season in midweek after producing another gap in the 2-0 defeat by Sporting Lisbon.
It means Son has now gone eight games without a goal, having finished the previous season as joint Premier League Golden Boot winners alongside Mohamed Salah.
Boss Conte appears to have to make a decision between keeping the 30-year-old on the starting line-up against an out-of-form opponent in the form of Saturday’s visitors Leicester, or giving him a long-overdue rest.
He said: “I think Sonny is certainly not happy because he’s not scoring.
“It’s normal and I like that he’s a little angry about this situation because it means he wants to try to change it, also because we need (him).
“We’re talking about Sonny and he’s a really important player for us. At the same time, it can happen, especially when you play massive games, that you are a bit tired mentally, your body too, so it can happen.
“But I repeat, Sonny would never, never be a problem for me. We’re talking about one of the best two players we have on our team.
“Certainly it can happen that in some games he can’t play from the start, like Harry (Kane) too. But only to protect him, give him the opportunity to rest, take care of his energy and bring us to victory.
“We are talking about players who are crucial during the game and we need these players to always be on top.”
You have to go back to the summer of 2020 – away at Bournemouth – when Son last started a Premier League game on the bench when he was fully fit.
Since then, the South Korean has played almost every minute he has been available for Tottenham, hitting the 20 goal mark in each of the last two campaigns.
“If you score a lot of goals, the following season is more difficult because you’re not an outsider, you’re the top scorer up there with Mohamed Salah,” explained Conte.
“But if you don’t (score), the confidence certainly drops a little bit. At the same time, I think that a strong player can handle this situation, face this situation… and overcome this situation.
“And I’ll say it again – Sonny has a lot of credit from me, from his teammates, from the fans and from the wider community. Because of this, Sonny will never be a problem for me.”
While Conte is still contemplating what to do with Son, he seems determined to make changes for the clash with the foxes.
Clement Lenglet, Ryan Sessegnon and Dejan Kulusevski are all lined up for callbacks.
Conte conceded that his recent decision to drop Kulusevski for three straight games forced him to change his usual policy when leaving players on the bench.
He added: “Saturday we need energy, we need energy. We finished the game against Sporting with little energy and that’s why I’m a bit angry because despite the great effort we put in in the game, we lost the game in the end.
“Of course I will do rotation on Saturday. We’ll see (who), but I’ll repeat it. I try to make the best decision for the team in every moment, not for me.
“To drop Deki for three games in a row, honestly, it was difficult for me. I don’t like explaining things to my players because I have to talk to one and the other and the other in every game.
“I think the most important thing is to have respect for the role. But at the same time I spoke to Deki because after you went to the bench three times in a row I think he deserved to feel that my trust, my trust, was like always. It was just a tactical decision.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/antonio-conte-son-heungmin-leicester-elizabeth-ii-kane-b2169191.html Antonio Conte says Son Heung-min is “never a problem” despite anger over goal drought