As soon as Richarlison plonked himself down on the bench after being withdrawn partway through Brazil's 5-1 demolition of Bolivia, the tears starting streaming down his face. His substitution came moments after the Tottenham striker had missed a gilt-edged chance which confirmed his fourth successive scoreless appearance for the Selecao - a streak that was extended to five after he again drew a blank against Peru on Tuesday.
The reason for Richarlison's emotion seemed obvious. Since arriving at Spurs from Everton for £50 million ($62m) last summer, he has struggled to nail down a starting spot in north London, but his trips away with Brazil have always been a safe space. They love Richarlison in his homeland and his place in the starting XI has rarely been in doubt.
Until now, that is. In the wake of the Bolivia match, the doyen of Brazilian sports writing Juca Kfouri stated: "It is not a reason for drama, but when Vinicius Junior returns, and with how well Rodrygo is playing, Richarlison should be happy if he's even on the bench."
However, as the player later explained, his tears were not caused by the threat to his place in the first team. Instead they came as a result of off-field problems that have been causing him significant distress in recent times.