'Overweight and lazy' - Neville reveals what he once thought of 6ft 1in Tottenham first teamer
By Richard Parks
Gary Neville has hailed the transformation of Mousa Dembele on Sky Sports from “overweight and lazy” into a brilliant Tottenham player under Mauricio Pochettino.
The Sky Sports pundit has been blown away by how Pochettino has transformed the Belgium international, as well as his teammates Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Danny Rose as well as ex-Spur Kyle Walker.
Neville delivered his assessment of the Tottenham manager as he pointed out the huge improvements of the players during his four years at the club.
“The counter-argument is that he has inherited potentially the best striker that the Premier League has seen in Harry Kane…I don’t think Kane had 10 Premier League goals when he arrived,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“Kyle Walker and Danny Rose were nowhere near as good. Mousa Dembele, I used to think was overweight and lazy but now I think of him as a fantastic player. Christian Eriksen used to play on the outside of games, now he gets right in where it hurts.
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“The manipulating of the squad from being a shambles, which it was with the attitude and the culture that existed to what it is now, it is an outstanding performance.”
Football Insider verdict:
Neville is not shy of the odd piece of hyperbole now and then, and his condemnation of Dembele as fat and lazy when Pochettino took charge in 2014 is more than a little unfair on the Belgian. Sure, he was not then the midfield monster that he has been for the last three seasons, with some of his performances in February and March as good as any Spurs fan can remember in central midfield since Paul Gascoigne was in his pomp. Certainly the muscular 6ft 1in Belgian has improved under Pochettino, but he was already a seasoned international and a proven Premier League player at that point. Tubby? Definitely not. Lazy? Nope, don’t recall that, either. Dembele’s languid, almost effortless style means he can look as if he’s not trying his absolute best at times, but he’s never been a Mesut Ozil, that’s for sure. The Belgian has certainly improved in the last few years and played the best football of his career, but he was hardly a no-hoper beforehand.