Mauricio Pochettino insists Erik Lamela is happy at Tottenham Hotspur amid rumours suggesting that he wants to leave the club. The Argentine international's absence from Premier League duty has become something of a long-running saga, with a troublesome and persistent hip injury keeping him sidelined since October.
Former Roma winger Lamela travelled to the Italian capital earlier this month for treatment and a change of scenery, leading to subsequent reports that he wished to return to Serie A on a permanent basis. However, the 24-year-old, who also went back to Argentina last month after his brother was injured in an accident, sought to clarify confusion over his situation this week by insisting via Twitter that his stint in Rome was "not for any other thing that is not to do with football" and that he was "missing White Hart Lane every minute".
Providing a latest update on Lamela during a press conference held before Tottenham's FA Cup fourth round tie against Wycombe Wanderers, Pochettino, who took his squad to Barcelona this week for a warm weather training camp, told reporters: "Tomorrow we expect that he will be here and in the moment that he arrives (we need) to assess him and try to see how he is.
"The last scan in Rome showed no issues, there is still pain in his hip joint but now it's important to meet us, stay here with the group and (for us to) try to push him to build his fitness to help him to achieve the level of the team and be available as soon as possible to try to help the team."
When asked about the player's mindset, he added: "It's a lot of rumours. He asked to go to Rome to try to change the place and maybe inspire him to recover quicker but you cannot control all the rumours. You never know where the rumours come from but he is very happy, we keep in touch every day.
"Maybe he was a little bit worried about some comments, for that (reason) he expressed his feelings at that moment via social media but he is very happy here, he is very focused and he has suffered a lot because he is a person that likes to play football and enjoys when he is on the pitch with the ball. All the rumours don't help him in the end but we try to advise him to only be focused, try to recover as soon as possible and forget what's happening around (him)."
Tottenham announced one outgoing deal on Thursday (26 January), with academy graduate midfielder Anton Walkes joining new expansion franchise Atlanta United on a six-month loan ahead of their 2017 Major League Soccer (MLS) debut. Pochettino has yet to make any new additions to his squad this month and reiterates that he is unlikely to do so before the 23.00 GMT transfer deadline on 31 January.
"I told you from the first day of the month that we are not thinking to sign players," he said. "If some special player becomes available who is a very good option, then maybe, but it hasn't happened yet. Nothing is impossible because a player can arrive at the last moment but I don't believe we will sign anyone."