Ross Barkley names Tottenham's Mousa Dembele as the toughest midfield opponent of his career

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Ross Barkley has named Tottenham's Mousa Dembele as the best midfielder he has played against in his career.

The pair came into direct competition on Sunday afternoon as Spurs edged past Ronald Koeman's side courtesy of thrilling 3-2 victory at White Hart Lane.

Barkley and Dembele both started for their respective sides but it was not the first time they had contested a fierce midfield battle.

Barkley played against Dembele as a teenager and told Everton's official Youtube channel - before the Toffees' latest trip to north London - that he rated the 29-year-old highly.

"Mousa Dembele in midfield. I played against him when I was 18 or 19 and I thought it was very tough.

"He's probably the hardest player I've played against. He's a strong player, he gets his foot in well and dictates play."

Dembele is a key member of Mauricio Pochettino's side and has formed a crucial partnership with summer signing Victor Wanyama this season.

The Belgium international is yet to score a Premier League goal this term but often provides the link between defence and attack for the north Londoners, prompting Pochettino to describe him as a "genius".

Meanwhile, Dembele has also made a big impression on his teammates at Spurs, with Dele Alli adamant his fellow midfielder is the best player in Pochettino's squad.