Jan Vertonghen: Christian Eriksen among world's best playmakers
LONDON -- Tottenham Hotspur's Christian Eriksen is now among the best playmakers in the world, according to teammate Jan Vertonghen.
Eriksen was named Tottenham supporters' player of the year last term, and he continued his superb start to this season by creating the first two goals and scoring their third in Saturday's 3-2 win at West Ham.
Vertonghen knows Eriksen well after playing with him for four seasons at Ajax before joining Spurs in 2012, a year before the Denmark international, and he says his clubmate is finally fulfilling his potential.
"I think Christian has made unbelievable progress," Vertonghen said. "I've known him for many years and he's always been a great talent, a great player, but in the last two seasons he's made great progress.
"Everyone always said that you have to be the best playmaker in the world with his quality and the last years have definitely been big, big steps forward. He's scoring goals and giving assists and even when he drops a line [plays deeper], like he did for us in a couple of games, he does very well. Christian, especially in the last two seasons, has been enormous."
Asked if Eriksen was now one of the best players in the world in his position, Vertonghen said: "I believe so, yes."
Vertonghen will miss Tuesday's Champions League match against Apoel Nicosia in Cyprus after being sent off in stoppage time for a second bookable offence in the win over Borussia Dortmund a fortnight ago.
The Belgium defender, who caught Mario Gotze with his arm to earn the second yellow, is disappointed but conceded there may be a silver lining to missing the match.
"Obviously I want to play every game -- every cup game, every league game," he said. "It's a shame, I don't think I deserve that red card but, if not, I'm on a yellow card and I can miss any other game with another yellow. I've got confidence in the team. I'm suspended now but it's only one game."
Another player who could miss the trip is Vertonghen's Belgium teammate Mousa Dembele, who is a doubt while he continues to struggle with a longstanding foot problem.
"Hopefully he's back to 100 percent real quick because he's a very important player for us," Vertonghen said. "Of course we've got some other options -- [Moussa] Sissoko can play in that role as well and he did very well there. Maybe on the side [wing] he's used to playing there a bit more but he did very well for us in that position. He can be a good solution for us.
"We've got Winksy [Harry Winks] on the bench and [Victor] Wanyama coming back. Eric [Dier] has done brilliantly there. When we play five at the back, we need one midfielder less, so it's easier for us to make a different formation."
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.