Christian Eriksen has not been at his best for Tottenham in recent weeks, according to Jose Mourinho, who thinks the midfielder has been affected by transfer rumours.
Eriksen has entered the final six months of his existing deal at Spurs, and does not appear to have any intention of signing a contract extension with the club.
It has been suggested that Tottenham will attempt to cash in on a prized asset before he is free to leave for nothing, with a number of potential suitors cropping up in the January window.
Italian giants Inter are chief among them, and reportedly laid an offer on the table when meeting with Eriksen's agent in Milan on Friday.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the 27-year-old's position at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Mourinho included him in his starting XI for the Premier League clash against Liverpool on Saturday evening.
Eriksen was hauled off in the second half of the 1-0 home defeat after failing to affect the game in any meaningful way, continuing a worrying recent trend.
Mourinho is not surprised that the Dane's performance levels have dipped, however, as he told reporters ahead of an FA Cup third-round replay against Middlesbrough: "“If you ask me if I think this is the best Christian Eriksen I have to be honest and say no. If you ask me if I know the reasons, I am not an idiot.
"I’m not blaming or criticising the player, I am just saying it is normal that a player in this situation doesn’t perform at the highest level, but I can also say that he is helping us in matches that he is playing with us.
“Eriksen had positive performances, he had positive contributions. If remember the game against Olympiacos which was a fundamental match for us to qualify, we were losing 2-0 and he came to the game and he gave us things.
“Same against Norwich, very good performance. I also think the same as probably you think and probably what our fans thought in the game. He didn’t have a very good performance in the game against Liverpool, I have to agree with that.”
Mourinho went on to praise 20-year-old defender Japhet Tanganga for his impressive senior debut against the Reds, while discussing the positives his side have taken from the defeat.
“The positives were a team in a very difficult situation playing as a team, playing against the best team by far in the country," he said. "For long periods of the game, we were not inferior and for some periods we were the strongest team.
“A debut of a young kid from the academy, English, against people like [Mohamed] Salah and [Sadio] Mane, who are obviously in the group of the top players in the world, good empathy from players and supporters, which is not easy when the season is not a good season and the result is even a defeat.
“I saw the best Davinson Sanchez, the best [Toby] Alderweireld, I saw the best level of focus and concentration from the players. Of course, we have some limitations but we know that, but in very difficult circumstances, the game was a good game.”
Spurs drew 1-1 with Boro at the Riverside, and will need to produce a much-improved display to progress to the fourth round on Tuesday night, before preparations begin for another crucial Premier League fixture.
Mourinho will take his team to Vicarage Road to face in-form Watford on Saturday, as they look to close the nine-point gap between themselves and fourth-place Chelsea.