Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino insists the contract situations of his players are not affecting his team selection.
Pochettino raised eyebrows for the opening game of the season last week when he left Christian Eriksen on the bench and did not include Jan Vertonghen in his matchday squad against Aston Villa.
Eriksen’s future is the subject of intense speculation – and Pochettino has said he does not know whether the Dane will be here after the European transfer window shuts in September – after he expressed a desire to leave while Vertonghen is in the final year of his contract.
Pochettino revealed that Eriksen, who came on and changed the game in a 3-1 win over Villa, is still struggling with fitness following summer surgery and said Vertonghen’s surprise omission was a tactical decision.
The Argentinian insists politics do not come into play and there are no personal issues.
“For me, it is the same if a player has a year or five years,” he said. “The selection is not because of the length of the contract, it is about the performance.
“I will take the decision based on the performance, not the contract or personal situations.
“My point is to help and support all the players until they decide to take a different way in their career. And show respect to all.
“One thing is my decision but that human relationship cannot be based on if you play or not play.
“I am happy with all the players. My personal relationship is good with all the players. It was a football decision.
“Of course it is painful when a player is out of the squad but that is a football decision.
“Sometimes you are confused in general that the players when they play are so happy and the coaching staff are the best coaching staff in the world, then if you decide that they don’t play, or are on the bench, or are out of the squad, you are the worst person in the world.
“It’s not like this. My decision is always is always in trying to be professional. The club pays me to take professional decisions. Of course I add my quality, like a human being, because I love to manage the team in this way.
“One thing is being fit, another is whether is going to be included in the starting XI or the squad.”
Both players are in contention for a daunting early-season trip to Manchester City, who have won their last 15 Premier League games.
Deadline day Giovani Lo Celso, who has been in the country just over a week, could also be in the squad, though Pochettino has confirmed he will not start.
“We need to assess him,” Pochettino said. “A lot of things have happened in his life now.
“He arrived with no pre-season, of course he is trying to adapt himself, his physical condition, tactically, settle in a new country in a new philosophy and it is not easy.
“I can tell you he won’t be in the starting XI, but if he is going to be involved or not we need to assess today. We need to see how he is and see the balance on the bench.”
Pochettino was the first manager to beat City boss Pep Guardiola in this country back in 2016 and Spurs were also the last side to inflict defeat on City when they won their Champions League quarter-final first leg in April.
Nothing will be decided at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening, but it will give a good insight into where Spurs are at.
“I am so happy to compete against him again,” Pochettino added. “That is fantastic. One season more to have the chance to compete against a team like City and Pep is one of the best of the best managers in the world.
“That means we are in the same race and that’s so important for myself.”