Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has warned French midfielder Moussa Sissoko he must raise his game if he wants to win a place in the first team.
Sissoko joined Spurs from Newcastle United in a club record-equalling 30 million pounds ($37.3 million, 35.1 million euros) deal during the close season.
But he has made only four Premier League starts this season and was left out of the squad for Spurs’ last two league games, the latest of which was Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Chelsea.
“Football is not about money,” Pochettino said in comments published by British newspapers on Monday.
“You show on the training ground you are better than another team-mate and you deserve to be involved.
“I need to take a decision and I believe the players that start on the bench deserve to be involved in the game (against Chelsea). It is not another thing to focus on.”
Sissoko publicly contradicted Pochettino after Spurs’ Champions League elimination by Monaco, saying the club should play their Europa League games at White Hart Lane rather than their temporary European home of Wembley.
But Pochettino said the France international’s omission at Chelsea had been “tactical”.
Pochettino also said Sissoko’s price tag played no part in his thinking when he selects the team.
“If you sign a player and you expect something and you do not find what you expect and if another deserves to be involved, like (Georges-Kevin) N’Koudou or (Vincent) Janssen -- why?” he said.
“Because we paid money we need to put the player to play? Of course he needs to work hard and show in the future he deserves to be involved in the team.”