Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos did little to dispel rumours of a falling-out with coach Jose Mourinho after playing in an unfamiliar right-back position in Sunday's 5-1 win over Deportivo La Coruna.
Centre-back Ramos, 26, was played at full-back as Mourinho rested Alvaro Arbeloa, and Real assistant coach Aitor Karanka said: "As the boss said, Sergio Ramos is one of the best centre-backs in the world when he is at his best.
"Today we thought Michael Essien would play right-back, but he was injured. Sergio has played a lot at full-back, and it was just a coincidence that he played there."
But some in the Spanish media saw the move as premeditated and further evidence of a falling-out with Mourinho, and Ramos did little to discourage such ideas with his post-match comments.
"If I had to choose I would play centre-back," he said. "But I am not here to get into debates with the coach, neither criticisms nor praise.
"Nobody can criticise my attitude. We are not machines or robots, and can have bad days. I live or die by my ideas - if I do not like something, why should I not say it? I will not stay quiet. Nobody can doubt my work or loyalty to this club."
Last week, Ramos said he was looking to move on from recent differences of opinion with Mourinho after returning to action in the club's 2-0 win against Rayo Vallecano.
Ramos was publicly critical of Mourinho after a La Liga defeat to Sevilla and subsequently found himself omitted from Madrid's starting line-up for the Champions League victory over Manchester City.
However, the Spain international claimed he was not aware whether he had been dropped as a punishment and said he would prefer that any problems were not aired in the media.
"I do not know if it was a punishment," he said. "There were technical reasons. For me, you resolve family issues behind closed doors. By family I mean Real Madrid, which runs in my blood. What happened, I will keep to myself."
Ramos said that, as far as he was concerned, the issue was now behind them, adding: "I am keen to keep contributing my best form and my best performances. Footballers like to play as many games as possible. I am happy to return to the eleven."