Tottenham's Mousa Dembele is a 'genius' in the same mould as Diego Maradona and Ronaldinho, insists Mauricio Pochettino

tom collomosse
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Mauricio Pochettino has labelled Mousa Dembele “a genius” in the mould of Diego Maradona and Ronaldinho.

The Tottenham midfielder has become a key player for Pochettino since the start of last season, with data from EA Sports suggesting he has been the best in the Premier League this term.

Those statistics have Dembele leading the way among midfielders for dribbling, pass completion and attacking passing.

Yet as influential as Dembele has been, Pochettino believes he could have turned the 29-year-old Belgian into a global superstar had he worked with him from a younger age.

The Spurs boss believes that for pure talent, Dembele deserves to be ranked with four of his former team-mates – most notably Maradona, briefly a colleague at Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys in the early 1990s, and Brazilian star Ronaldinho, who played with Pochettino at Paris St Germain from 2001-03.

Another former PSG team-mate, Jay Jay Okocha, makes Pochettino’s “genius” list along with Ivan De La Pena, a Spanish playmaker who played alongside Pochettino at Espanyol, where Pochettino also managed him.

“I always tell him: ‘Mousa, when I write my book, you will be one of my genius players, who I have been lucky to meet,” said Pochettino. “One was Maradona. The others were Ronaldinho, Okocha and De La Pena.

“We have always told Mousa that if we had taken him at 18 or 19, he would have become one of the best players in the world. I would love to have taken him on at 18.

“He is completely different now to when we arrived at Tottenham two-and-a-half years ago.

"He didn’t play too much in his first season (Dembele made only 10 league starts in the 2014-15 campaign) as he always had physical problems.

“I must give all the credit to my staff and the sports science team, all the medical staff, because they have created a new Mousa Dembele who is strong and can play regularly.

"If you are honest, you would agree with me.

“We provide individual training plans to every player and Mousa started to work very hard. We are very happy with him.”

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