Robben: Van der Vaart as good as Cesc

Dutch winger Arjen Robben has hailed Tottenham Hotspur's recent signing of compatriot Rafael van der Vaart from Real Madrid as one that could help Spurs match arch-rivals Arsenal.

The Bayern Munich star played alongside Van der Vaart as the Netherlands reached this summer's World Cup final and believes the former Ajax and Hamburg midfielder, who moved to White Hart Lane on the final day of the summer transfer window, will prove to be one of the Premier League's biggest stars.

GEAR: Get the brand new Spurs home shirt with Van der Vaart No.11 on the back!

"Before Rafa signed [for Tottenham], I’d have had Arsenal down as the stronger team - but now I don’t think there is anything between them," Robben said in the Daily Mail.

"With Rafa on board, Spurs really do have one of the very best midfield players in the Premier League, maybe even the best.

"In terms of his vision, his range of passing, his ability to split a defence and his eye for goal he is as good as Cesc Fabregas, Steven Gerrard and of course Frank Lampard. He is that bridge for Spurs that makes them go from a very good Premier League club to a team capable of taking on and beating any side in Europe on their day.'

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp last week claimed that Bayern Munich had been in the running to sign the 27-year-old Real Madrid man, only to pull out on the penultimate day of the window, allowing the North Londoners to pounce and seal a cut-price deal.

And Robben expressed his disappointment that his international team-mate didn't join him at the Allianz Arena, and surprise that Real were willing to sell for a reported £8 million.

"I don’t know why he didn’t join Bayern in the end. I really wanted him, but Spurs have bought a gem.

"When you consider the amount of money Real Madrid and Manchester City have spent on players, it’s almost unbelievable to think what Spurs reportedly paid for Rafa.

"Madrid almost gave away one of the best players in the world – but that’s their style. They got rid of me and Wesley Sneijder in the same summer and I went on to win my domestic league and get to the Champions League final, while Wesley went on to win the treble and become the best player in the world. Madrid’s mistake will very much be Spurs’ gain."

The former Chelsea wide-man went on to explain how Arsenal forward Robin van Persie had attempted to persuade Van der Vaart to move to Emirates Stadium.

"I knew of his interest in England and that Van Persie had been speaking with him about how great life in London was" the 26-year-old explained.

"I think when Robin was trying to convince him how great London and the Premier League was, it was as though he was trying to convince him to join Arsenal.

"It’s kind of backfired on Robin a little bit now, though, because he has signed for their biggest rivals."

Tottenham's new No.11 could be reunited with Van Persie as soon as September 21, when his new team face Arsene Wenger's Gunners in the Carling Cup at White Hart Lane.

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