Fulham manager Martin Jol has declared Belgian international Mousa Dembele a better player than his Tottenham team-mate, Gareth Bale.
The 25-year-old Belgian midfielder transferred from Craven Cottage to White Hart Lane in the summer for a fee of approximately £15m and although Dembele has not grabbed the same headlines as Bale, Jol believes the Belgian is a more valuable player to Andre Villas-Boas.
"We wanted to keep Dembele. You can give him the ball and he won't give it away because he is too strong - even if there is no time and space," Jol said in a Goal.com report.
"Spurs are strong. The nucleus of the team has been the same over the last few years so they can't be a one-man team. Bale's making a difference. But on the ball, pound for pound, Mousa is probably the best," the Dutch manager added.
Jol will be reunited with Dembele on Sunday afternoon, albeit temporarily, when Fulham travel to the Lane to face Spurs in a Premier League (read an IBTimes UK preview) match.
Dembele has made 22 league appearances for Spurs this season, and has a goal and three assists to his name. By contrast, Bale has 26 games (all starts) and 16 goals and two assists to show for his efforts.
On the face of it, then, Bale would appear to be the more valuable player. After all, it is the 23-year-old Welshman who is being actively pursued by Real Madrid. Although, to be correct, Goal.com reported the Spanish champions were interested in the midfielder in the summer.
Nevertheless, the fact is Spurs win nearly 70 percent of their games with the Belgian in the side. Without him, that rate drops to an abysmal 14 percent. It would appear AVB has found just the right replacement for Croatian midfielder Luka Modric, who was hailed as the metronome of the Tottenham side under Harry Redknapp.
Jol Dismisses Europa League Hangover
Meanwhile, Jol claimed he expected no advantage to accrue to his side from the scheduling of this game. Fulham have had a fortnight's break since their last match - on 2 March. They were supposed to play Chelsea on 10 March but that was postponed because the Blues faced Manchester United in the FA Cup.
Tottenham, on the other hand, played in Italy in midweek, and were roundly beaten 4-1 by Inter Milan in a Europa League tie. Fortunately, morale should be high; Spurs progressed to the quarter-finals on the away goals rule.
"They have a big squad. If you rest five or six players, like they did at Inter, there is no problem," Jol concluded.