Real Madrid star Sami Khedira does not believe the arrival of Michael Essien is a sign that Jose Mourinho has lost faith in his ability.
• Mourinho warns Real stars
Essien was a surprise arrival at the Bernabeu when he joined on a season-long loan from Chelsea, but Khedira says the Ghanaian was a replacement for Lassana Diarra, who has joined Anzhi Makhachkala.
"Lassana Diarra has been sold," Khedira told kicker. "You have not read much about that. The fact is we have had four or five defensive midfielders over the past few years. This year we have Xabi Alonso, Michael Essien and me."
The Germany international said he wanted to show Mourinho he was "a man he can rely on" and added: "I want to try to exert more influence on the game and to make use of my attacking qualities."
The 25-year-old scored four times as Madrid clinched the title last season, and said: "Those four goals last season were better than the zero goals I scored in my first season for Real, but I believe I have not reached the end of my development."
Khedira expects a tough campaign, with the pressure on the club to become champions of Europe for a tenth time.
"The tasks are getting bigger every year," he said. "If you win something with Real, the fans expect even more the following year. Now they say: 'You have won the league. Prove that you are a great player'.
"Lifting the Supercup over two matches against Barcelona was a good sign, but the league is a different competition and we have fallen behind already.
"Fans and the club are hungry for that tenth Champions League title, and that title was always my goal, but it would be presumptuous to stake everything on that. Defending our league title is a big task as well."
Madrid have been handed a difficult draw in the Champions League as they face Manchester City, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund in the group stage - but Khedira said he was relishing the challenge.
"I was happy with the draw. It is great to compete against strong opponents. Manchester City is a top international team, Dortmund will not want to suffer another disappointing campaign and we have had our experience with Ajax," he said.
"I like playing those teams in the group stage more than playing Nicosia in the quarter-finals." He added: "It is our duty to make it out of the group."
Khedira also addressed Cristiano Ronaldo's recent revelation that he was suffering "sadness" at the club, saying: "He never hinted at something like that."
The midfielder played down the suggestion the Portuguese could leave. He said: "Maybe Ronaldo just wanted the public to have a view into his personal life. And when he says something, it has a much bigger effect as he is among the best players in the world."