Inter Milan coach Andrea Stramaccioni has rubbished reports that midfielder Wesley Sneijder is being victimised.
The influential Dutch playmaker has been a peripheral figure at the San Siro recently and was left out of the side that limped to a 1-0 win over Palermo.
Media reports in Italy suggest Sneijder would have to accept a pay cut to remain with the Italian giants although Stramaccioni insists the contract wrangle is not the reason for him being left out.
"My view - as someone who has only experienced this level of football for a short time - is that we should be careful when using terms such as 'victimised'," he told reporters.
"If someone who earns 1,000 euros a month heard us, we'd look a bit silly. It's my job to decide who's in the best shape to play and I do so. I make my decisions and I stand by them, so let's please avoid talking about someone being 'victimised'.
"It's my job to pick the best team available, and at the moment I'm not picking him. This has nothing to do with his contract, I have to select the team and Inter come first.
"It's not a case of the president telling me not to pick Sneijder, I pick the team. And I think it's outrageous to suggest Sneijder is being 'victimised'."
Inter appeared lost without Sneijder and suspended striker Antonio Cassano yet they still did enough to deny Gian Piero Gasperini any joy on his return to the San Siro.
Palermo's current coach was unceremoniously sacked as Inter boss having overseen just five games last season and although his side deserved a share of the spoils, they were undone by Santiago Garcia's own goal in the 74th minute.
It was Inter's first win and four and helped them to third in the Serie A standings.
"It'd been a few games since I breathed a sigh of relief," added Stramaccioni.
"At times like this, when we're not at our best, I enjoyed our performance, we showed consistency.
"We gave everything and created some clear-cut chances in the first half, but we faded somewhat in the second. Then of course the goal made everything easier."