​Mauricio Pochettino has hailed Tottenham's midfield enforcer Mousa Dembele as a "genius" footballer who reminds him of legendary players Diego Maradona and Ronaldinho.

Dembele has been one of Spurs' most consistent performers during Pochettino's two-and-a-half year reign at White Hart Lane, with stats courtesy of EA Sports earlier this week suggesting that the 28-year-old was the best current centre midfielder in the Premier League.

Pochettino spoke to journalists ahead of his side's away trip to Burnley on Saturday and, when quizzed over how Dembele has improved during the Argentine's spell in charge in North London, he waxed lyrical about the progress the Belgium international has made as he likened him with some extraordinary comments.

He told ​FourFourTwo magazine: "Mousa Dembele is completely different to two-and-a-half years ago when we arrived here.

"He didn't play too much in his first season, he always had problems, or physical problems. I must give all credit to these guys, the sports science and all the medical staff, to create now a Mousa Dembele that is strong and can play.

"I always say 'Mousa, in my book you will be one of my genius players that I have been lucky to meet'. One was Maradona, the others Ronaldinho, [Jay-Jay] Okocha and [Ivan] De la Pena - he was a genius too - and Mousa Dembele.

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

Dembele was revealed to be the best dribbler, most consistent passer and top dog when it came to passes in opposition halves by EA Sports' data analysts during the March international break, and the ex-Fulham man's performances have certainly gone under the radar with many critics and wider footballing fanbases at the second-placed English top flight side.

Dembele, who is contracted with Spurs until June 2019, has made 186 appearances in all competitions since he moved to the club from Fulham in a £16m in August 2012.

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