Robben: Rafa makes Spurs as good as Arsenal
Bayern Munich midfielder Arjen Robben says that the gap between Arsenal and Tottenham has closed, but mainly because of the arrival of Rafael van der Vaart at White Hart Lane.
Robben played with Van der Vaart at Real Madrid and also for Netherlands at the 2010 World Cup and insists that Spurs have bought themselves a ''gem'' despite his failure to make an impression at the Bernabeu.
''Before Rafa signed, I'd still have had Arsenal down as the stronger team - but now I don't think there is anything between them,'' Robben said. ''With Rafa on board, Spurs really do have one of the very best midfield players in the Premier League, maybe even the best.''
Robben also claimed that Arsenal star Robin van Persie had been trying to tempt Van Der Vaart into a move to the Emirates, although the move backfired.
''I knew of his interest in England and that van Persie had been speaking with him about how great life in London was,'' Robben said. ''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.''
Robben maintained that he wanted to play with Van der Vaart at Bayern, as he claims the midfielder is up there with the best in the Premier League.
''I don't know why he didn't join Bayern in the end. I really wanted him but Spurs have bought a gem,'' he said. ''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.
''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.''