Mauricio Pochettino has warned Moussa Sissoko the Tottenham record signing must prove he deserves a place in the squad and his transfer fee counts for nothing.
Spurs signed Sissoko in a deal worth up to £30million in the summer – equalling the amount they paid for Erik Lamela in 2013 – but the Frenchman has endured a difficult start to life at White Hart Lane.
Sissoko has made only four Premier League starts this term and Pochettino chose not to include him even on the bench for his side’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea on Saturday.
He was also left out of the squad against West Ham last weekend, before coming off the bench against Monaco in the Champions League, and Pochettino insists it is up to Sissoko to prove his worth.
“Football is not about money,” Pochettino said.
“You [need to] 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. It is not another thing to focus on.”
Pochettino gave short shrift to Sissoko’s comments following the defeat in Monaco that Tottenham would prefer to play Europa League games at White Hart Lane rather than Wembley.
The Argentinian has proven himself ruthless with players that fail to tow the line as the sales of Andros Townsend, Emmanuel Adebayor, Paulinho, Etienne Capoue and Younes Kaboul have shown in the past.
Pochettino suggested Sissoko is not fulfilling his potential.
“It is not frustrating for me. It is about football. We can see in football different things happen,” Pochettino said.
“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) Nkoudou or (Vincent) Janssen – why? 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.”
There were signs of encouragement in Tottenham’s performance at Stamford Bridge as the visitors had 12 shots to their opponents’ nine and enjoyed 54 per cent possession.
The defeat, however, coming four days after their exit from the Champions League was confirmed, means Spurs have now won only once in 10 in all competitions.
“If you want to criticise that then okay, I accept that,” Pochettino said.
“But I think there is nothing wrong. We are in a good position in the Premier League. We are out of the Champions League and that is a little bit tough and after Monaco I said maybe we cannot cope in both competitions.
“You saw a very different performance between Monaco and Chelsea – that happens because to be fresh to play in both competitions is difficult.
“We need to learn about that and start to win games.”