Dembele a genius, says Spurs boss

LONDON • Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele does not make the back pages quite as often as his more illustrious team-mates Harry Kane and Dele Alli.

But his manager certainly appreciates the work he does in the middle of the park after comparing him to Diego Maradona.

Spurs make the short journey across London to take on Crystal Palace in the Premier League today with a ringing endorsement for the Belgian from Mauricio Pochettino.

"I have said before that he is a genius of football," said the Spurs boss of the Belgium international.

"I put him next to Ronaldinho, Maradona, (Jay-Jay) Okocha - players that I was lucky to play with.

"For me, he is one of the unbelievable talents in the history of football. Now he is in an amazing moment and for me, he deserves all the praises that people are giving him."

Spurs are aiming to gain ground on Chelsea and Liverpool, the teams directly above them.

The Argentinian has a full squad available, with defender Toby Alderweireld the only doubt because of a hamstring problem.

Pochettino built a relationship with Roy Hodgson when the latter managed England, and he hailed the job the Eagles boss has done to lift his team out of the drop zone.

"It will be a battle," he said. "We need to match them in the areas of motivation, ready to fight and then of course, try to deliver our way and our game.

"The three points are massive for us."

Palace's injury crisis has deprived Hodgson of 12 senior players including winger Wilfried Zaha and he admitted getting a result against Spurs would be a big ask.

"It was always going to be a difficult game. Even if I could resuscitate these 12 players and add them to those that we have to give us a very good squad, it would still be a tough game," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 25, 2018, with the headline 'Dembele a genius, says Spurs boss'. Print Edition | Subscribe