West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini has rejected any suggestion that he has fallen out with summer signing Lucas Pérez after the striker appeared to refuse to warm up during the Irons' 3-1 win over Everton on Sunday.
The east Londoners got off to the perfect start as Andriy Yarmolenko scored a simple goal to put them on course for their first win this season. The former Borussia Dortmund winger then found the back of the net again with a classy solo goal.
Everton threatened a comeback when Gylfi Sigurdsson scored on the stroke of half time, but West Ham talisman Marko Arnautović settled any nerves in the second half by sending a left-footed strike underneath Jordan Pickford.
Just minutes after Arnautović got his name on the scoresheet, head coach Pellegrini appeared to gesture that former Arsenal striker Pérez would replace the Austrian for the last 20 minutes of the game.
However, Michail Antonio was actually brought on instead of Pérez, raising questions over a possible rift between the Spaniard and Pellegrini, something which the Chilean manager has been quick to play down.
Lucas Perez refusing to warm up according to Sky. Why on earth would you do that when your team is creating a bucket load of chances? Great opportunity to score a goal & show the manager you should play. Instead he does that. Terrible attitude.— Sibs 🐝🔰 (@SibsMUFC) September 16, 2018
"Always when you are not winning there are a lot of stories - this week it was about the team leak," Pellegrini said after the match, quoted by the Standard.
"I called Lucas to get ready to play, but Antonio was already ready so played as I needed to make the change. I don't have any problem with the player."
Fans will be desperate to know that there are no issues between Pérez and Pellegrini after the Spaniard was deemed one of the bargains of the summer transfer window, arriving from north London for an estimated £4m.
The 30-year-old has looked sharp when he has been brought on as an impact player this season, but Pérez is unlikely to be given a chance from the outset in the Premier League due to Felipe Anderson and Yarmolenko's turn in form.