The Spurs youth hailed the new Xavi - Who needs Januzaj & Gnabry?

Tottenham Shirt

And he already has the stats to back it up! Young French midfielder has impressed many with his passing game, not least one former Tottenham midfield star.

It is amazing to think that just a month ago, hardly anyone had heard of Nabil Bentaleb.

Following on from Adnan Januzaj and Serge Gnabry's emergence at United and Arsenal, Bentaleb has come from nowhere midseason to stake a claim in one of the league's most expensive  midfields. There are also rumours that the FA are trying to persuade him to switch his allegiance to England - despite having played for the French Under-19s and also being able to play for Algeria.

It is undeniable that Tim Sherwood's appointment gave Bentaleb the chance to shine at the top level. The former Blackburn man, himself a title winning midfielder, was a big advocate of the youngster's rise to the fringes of the squad under Andre Villas-Boas, and upon gaining control of the first team, integrating Bentaleb was one of the first things he did.

When Nabil Bentaleb emerged from the bench to make his Tottenham debut at Southampton, there were plenty of Spurs fans astounded that such an inexperienced youngster could be preferred to pricey international acquisitions Lewis Holtby and Etienne Capoue. And yet he brought a technical and competitive edge to the game that saw them emerge as 3-2 winners.

On Saturday against Crystal Palace, Bentaleb played his first full Premier League game for the club, and not only was he one of the best players on the pitch, he also achieved some spectacular statistics over the 90 minutes.

The nineteen-year-old looked dangerous from range, striking the inside of the post with an outstanding effort that had Julian Speroni beat, and completed 106 passes at White Hart Lane, more than any other Premier League player this weekend. What's more, he had a 93.6% completion rate.

Comparing Bentaleb to other central midfielders only emphasises just how impressive his performances have been. He registered more than double that of Manchester United midfield maestro Michael Carrick against Swansea (50), and was within touching distance of one of the world's best central midfielders Xavi, who had just six more against Atletico Madrid (112).

The style of play has impressed former Liverpool and Tottenham captain Jamie Redknapp, who was generous with his praise in his Daily Mail column.

"Bentaleb was brilliant for Spurs, he almost matched Xavi in midfield," said the Sky Sports pundit. "People say anybody can make five-yard passes, but if they think that’s easy, they are kidding themselves. For a teenager to come in and play the way he has is unbelievable."

"Tim Sherwood knows him from the youth set-up and he certainly knows a thing or two about playing in midfield.

"But Bentaleb’s ability belies his age. He is confident and plays with a nice arrogance, as if he’s saying: ‘Here I am, give me the ball.’ It was a brave decision to blood the youngster, but it looks like one that will pay off."

The real test for Bentaleb will be keeping his place once Paulinho and Sandro are back fit, but at the moment, with Capoue and Holtby being linked with other clubs as the young Frenchman keeps them out of the team, it looks like Spurs have another star on their hands.

image: © firepower23

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