Former Arsenal attacker Paul Merson has put aside his club allegiances and claimed that Tottenham Hotspur defender Toby Alderweireld is the best centre-back in the world.
The Belgium international is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury that has kept him out of the Londonersâ€™ last four Premier League games.
It is no coincidence that Tottenham’s form has dropped since then, with their last win coming against Crystal Palace on the November 5.
Ironically, Alderweireld got injured at the same stage last season and went on to miss nine games which, once again, resulted in a poor run for Spurs that probably cost them a run at Chelsea for the Premier League title.
Since signing for Tottenham in 2015 he has formed a formidable partnership with countryman Jan Vertonghen at the heart of the Spurs backline and firmly established himself among the best central defenders in the game.
For most observers it is names such as Sergio Ramos and Jerome Boateng that spring to mind as the elite defenders in world football and not the Lilywhites stopper – but according to Merson this shouldnâ€™t be the case.
â€A bit of poor play has crept into Tottenham, especially defensively, which I havenâ€™t seen before,â€ he told Sky Sports.
â€Theyâ€™re missing Toby Alderweireld, who is the best centre-back in the world.â€
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino also weighed in on the Â absence of the 28-year-old when talking to the media on Thursday.
â€I think we miss him, because in the last few seasons heâ€™s been one of our best players. But now what can we do if heâ€™s injured?â€
It has been revealed that Alderweireld is to have a scan in a fortnight as his hamstring injury is proving worse than first feared – and he is not likely to return to the Tottenham first-team until after Christmas.
It is a big blow for Spurs with the congested festive program coming up.
Alderweireld is yet to agree an improved contract extension as fears grow he may leave Tottenham if he does not get the deal he believes he deserves.
Spurs will look to get back to winning ways when they visit Watford on Saturday – a game that Merson believes they will record a 3-1 victory in.