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Dembele 'a genius of football' like Maradona and Ronaldinho, claims Pochettino

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino believes Mousa Dembele to be "a genius of football" like Diego Maradona and Ronaldinho.

Dembele has received rave reviews in recent weeks as Spurs emerged unbeaten from a run of fixtures that included clashes with Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Juventus.

The former Fulham man has been key to this fine form and his manager was in no mood to play down the midfielder's talents ahead of Tottenham's next Premier League match against Crystal Palace.

"I can talk about [Dembele] because I know very well him after nearly four years," Pochettino told a pre-match news conference. "I have told you - and some people use my word to describe him - he is a genius of football.

"He is this type of player I put next to Ronaldinho, Maradona, [Jay-Jay] Okocha – players that I was lucky to play with. For me, he is one of the unbelievable talents in the history of football.

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"For him, it was always difficult to be fit – he's always fighting for his fitness – but now he's in an amazing moment and he deserves all the praise people are giving him."

Pochettino is hoping Dembele can again stand out at Selhurst Park, where he is expecting a tough test against Roy Hodgson's Palace.

"It will be a big battle," he said of the match. "Roy and his staff are doing a fantastic job. It will be good to see them again.

"We need to match them in the areas of motivation and [being] ready to fight and then, of course, try to deliver our way and our game. It will be very tough.

"It will be very important to win the three points, fighting for the top four. The idea is to win, the idea is to fight, to be ready. The three points are massive for us."