Mauricio Pochettino has refused to be drawn into a war of words over Gaston Ramirez.

The £12m Uruguayan has struggled to feature prominently in Pochettino’s plans this season and has been linked with a move to Napoli in the January transfer window.

Ramirez’s agent, Pablo Betancourt, was quoted earlier in Italy as saying Napoli was a potential destination for the midfielder and that the player liked chairman Nicola Cortese but not manager Pochettino.

The Saints boss, pictured right, refused to retaliate – but also stopped short of saying he would definitely keep Ramirez in January.

“I don’t really have an opinion in what’s in the press regarding those matters, I really don’t have a comment on that,” said Pochettino.

“I only make decisions based on sports factors based on the good of the team and the performance of the team.

“I don’t have a preference for any of the 24 players that are available to me, I just make decisions based on sports factors and what’s best for the team.”

When asked directly if Saints would consider offers for Ramirez in January he added: “Right now we can’t even consider that. We have to wait until January.

“We will look at that when the times comes. We can’t even consider that at this moment.

“We just want the player to focus on training, to focus on playing and just focus on the sporting sense and nothing else and later on we will see what happens but right now we can’t consider any of that.”

Pochettino is keen to keep the focus of his team on their good form rather than one player.

“I don’t like to speak publicly about individual players like that. I don’t think that’s fair,” he said.

“I just make decisions on what’s the best thing for the team.

“I make decisions based on training, sports factors and try to make the best decisions for my teams to win games and play in a good manner.

“It’s always clear there’s 11 starting players, seven players that have to be on the bench and five or six players that have to be left out.

“It’s a mathematical equation, it has to happen in every single game and I don’t really like to speak about that.”