Steve McClaren’s challenged Moussa Sissoko to raise his game – and let his feet do the talking.
The Newcastle United midfielder has talked a lot of his ambitions over the past 12 months.
But the 26-year-old was found wanting in the latter months of last season as the club fought the threat of relegation.
And Sissoko – who has kept his place in the France squad for this month’s friendlies against Armenia and Denmark – is yet to find form under McClaren.
McClaren, United’s head coach, has spoke at length with Sissoko about the “standards” he must reach if he is to fulfil his ambitions for club and country.
Asked if Sissoko was fully committed to the club given his previous statements about wanting to join a “big club” and play in the Champions League, McClaren said: “I’ve had lots of chats with him.
“He seems it (committed). He’s obviously very ambitious, and that’s great.
“But, like everybody who is ambitious, I’m sorry but you half to perform every week to a certain standard and he knows that.”
Sissoko – who hopes to star for France in Euro 2016 – has been playing on the right side of McClaren’s midfield.
“Moussa is such a threat, but it’s about finding his best position also in terms of how we want to play and the team,” said McClaren, whose side take on Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium this afternoon.
“I thought in the first game against Southampton, he and (Daryl) Janmaat were excellent down the right hand side.
“And that side, actually, for those games, was our only threat and still is our only threat.
“You look at the Watford second half, we moved Moussa back out and him and Janmaat caused all kinds of problems.
“So in terms of his performance, I’m sure he admits himself he could do better.
“But his work for the team, his stats and his running, all that high intensity, is more than he was doing last season. So he’s certainly doing his job and putting the effort in.”