Jose Mourinho says he has "too many players" and that Dele Alli is "paying the price" after leaving him out for the second consecutive matchday squad, fuelling ongoing speculation over his future at Tottenham.
Alli was named in Mourinho's first starting XI of the new season last weekend as Spurs played host to Everton, but was hauled off at half-time during the 1-0 defeat.
The Portuguese boss insisted that his decision was purely tactical post-match amid reports of a behind the scenes row between the pair, but proceeded to leave the England international out of his final squad for a Europa League qualifying win over Lokomotiv Plovdiv on Thursday night.
Alli did not travel with the rest of the Tottenham squad to St Mary's for a clash against Southampton on Saturday afternoon either, with it now being suggested that the midfielder's days at the club are numbered.
Mourinho explained Alli's absence during a pre-match interview with Premier League Productions when asked if he is currently dealing with any fitness issues: "No, we have a huge squad with numbers that are very difficult to manage. I never had it, I don't want to have it and it's not easy for me to be here with 18 players and to have 10 training at the training ground.
"Too many players, so I start with Son, with Lucas [Moura], with Harry [Kane]. On the bench, I still have Moussa Sissoko, [Erik] Lamela, [Steven] Bergwijn. We have too many players for some positions and some of them are paying the price of this."
The former Chelsea and Manchester United boss has become well known for his public tirades against his own players over the past decade, with the likes of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Luke Shaw and Paul Pogba all subjected to his wrath behind the scenes.
Tottenham's club-record signing Tanguy Ndombele has also felt the sharp end of Mourinho's tongue, with his fitness and commitment levels called into question on several occasions in the second half of the 2019-20 campaign.
Indeed, the 57-year-old coach also singled out Alli at the start of his reign in north London back in November, suggesting his previous performances in 2019 had not been up to the required standard after watching the playmaker produce a match-winning display against West Ham.
“His brother stayed at home,” Mourinho joked to talkSPORT after the match. “[The real] Dele was here. It was the Dele that everybody loves, the Dele that many clubs were trying to buy a few years ago. This was Dele."
Alli could yet fall even further down the squad pecking order at Spurs following Gareth Bale's return to the club from Real Madrid on Saturday.
The Welshman, who has rejoined Tottenham on a season-long loan deal, has been tipped to take up a prominent attacking role in Mourinho's line up as the season progresses, but is not expected to feature until next month due to a lack of matchday sharpness.