Tottenham fans take note, as former midfield ace comes up against the man charged with replacing him in tonight’s encounter in Brussels.
This evening’s Group A World Cup Qualifying match between Belgium and Croatia will throw-up an intriguing contest as Tottenham’s new-signing Mousa Dembele is pitted against, in Croatian star Luka Modric, the player he was brought in to replace at Spurs.
Modric completed his long-expected departure to Real Madrid in a £33m deal in the final week of the transfer window after months of fierce speculation linking him with the Spanish giants.
Spurs opted to invest nearly half of the funds they received for the Croatian in Belgian Dembele. The club paid Fulham £15m for the midfielder’s services on the penultimate day of the window, just days after he produced a man-of-the-match performance for the Cottagers against Manchester United.
Spurs fans will have resigned themselves to the loss of Modric long before his sale and the strategic deal with Real was announced and it was largely a summer of uncertainty in north London, as an endless stream of replacements were linked with the club.
In Dembele, Spurs fans can rest assured that the club have bought a class player who has all the ability and potential to be just as good as Modric, though in different style to the classy Croatian and tonight’s encounter at the Stade Roi Badouin may provide a snapshot of what the club have lost and what they have gained.
Should Modric out-pass and simply outclass the Belgian this evening (as he did at times against the legendary Spanish midfielder Xavi at Euro 2012), then it could provide a sore reminder for Spurs fans that they’ve once again lost a player of mercurial talent to a bigger club and attracted a substandard player as his replacement.
Conversely, if Dembele plays to his strengths as part of what is a hugely talented Belgium side, who are fully expected to beat Croatia at home, then Spurs fans can begin to look forward to a new midfielder maestro at the Lane. Indeed, there are some quarters that feel Dembele has more in his locker than the former Dynamo Zagreb man – namely strength, eye for goal and versatility.
The game will also see a host of other Premier League stars feature for Belgium with another new Spurs player, Jan Vertonghen, set to start again after scoring a thunderbolt against Wales on Friday night, along with the likes of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany, Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen and Everton duo Marouane Fellaini and Kevin Mirallas.
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