Carlos Tevez has been challenged to "show the real stuff" by Shanghai Shenhua, although the Chinese Super League side have rejected reports their marquee signing has been banished from their first-team plans.
Tevez joined Shenhua from Boca Juniors in December in a deal that reportedly made him the highest-paid player in world football.
The 33-year-old Argentinian forward has subsequently failed to impress, scoring three times in 13 games, and chairman Wu Xiaohui last week said his form "didn't meet our expectations".
Tevez, who has been booed by his own team's supporters, was left out of Shenhua's previous two CSL matches but club spokesperson Ma Yue rejected reports in Argentina that he had refused to play for the reserves.
"Tevez has never been told that he has no place in the first team, and the claim that he refused to answer [the] club's calls [to play with reserve team] is not true," Ma said in a statement.
"Quite the contrary, head coach Wu Jingui and team leader Mao Yijun have shown great concern for him and the communication between them is very smooth."
Ma added that Shenhua were not looking to make excuses for Tevez and called upon the former Manchester City and Juventus star to apply himself in training and win back a starting place on merit.
"Tevez brings a private coach from Argentina during the season interval and does extra training of his own will after 4pm every day," the statement added.
"We are not making excuses for Tevez, the club just want to clarify that he hasn't abandoned himself like some foreign media have claimed.
"He should have realized that he will not be picked in the starting line-up purely on reputation. We have five healthy foreign players, if he wants to be one of the three who are eligible to play, he's got to show the real stuff."
Last week, Shenhua accused French media outlet SFR Sports of taking apparently disparaging comments by Tevez about the quality of football in China out of context.
The 3-1 win over Guangzhou R&F on Saturday was Shenhua's first in eight matches.
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.