Joey Barton names ex-Spurs midfielder as one of his toughest opponents – Not Dembele

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Former Newcastle United and Manchester City midfielder, Joey Barton, has lauded ex-Tottenham star Luka Modric as his toughest ever opponent.

Modric had built up a reputation in his home country before arriving at Spurs in the summer of 2008, but it is fair to say that he didn’t hit the ground running at White Hart Lane.

However, like many Spurs stars at the time, Harry Redknapp got the best out of the midfielder once he replaced Juande Ramos at the helm.

When the 34-year-old was moved into central midfield during the 2009/10 season, rather than the left where he had initially played, he came into his own and started dictating games.

The diminutive midfielder never looked back after that and was consistently one of the best players in the division before earning a move to Real Madrid.

Unsurprisingly, Barton put the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner among the best midfielders he has come up against in his Premier League career, and that is a big compliment considering the stellar names that he played against.

Speaking to the Football CFB Podcast (as relayed by the Daily Star) Barton said: “I’m fortunate enough to have played against pretty much every household Premier League name.

“You play against them at different times so when I played against Roy Keane he was coming to the end. He wasn’t quite the box-to-box midfielder he was in his early days at Manchester United and Nottingham Forest.

“He was more of a holding midfielder but phenomenal at what he did and how he adapted his game.

“Scholes was very, very hard to get to. He went places you just couldn’t go – if you went after him he’d play a pass around the corner. If you left him he would hit a 50-yard diagonal. So you were damned if you did and damned if you didn’t.

“Gerrard obviously with his running and physicality. What a player – he could do everything.

“Lampard was the best at ghosting off of you and getting goals without being a top player. You didn’t ever go ‘he’s going to get the ball and take me on’. But his goal record at Chelsea speaks for itself and he was wonderful at what he did.

“Makelele was arguably the best number 4 in the world at the time, Vieira an absolute powerhouse. I could go on and on.

“The one I was lucky enough to play against at his absolute peak was Modric at Spurs. I remember coming off and thinking he was the best I played against in the Premier League.

“I thought he was on a different level and in the summer Real Madrid signed him. Honestly, you could tell he was at an elite level which he’s gone on to show with what he’s won.

“So he would be the best individual performer I came up against.”

Spurs Web Opinion

I have never seen any other player in world football, including greats like Xavi, Zidane, Pirlo or Scholes, control a game like Luka did. He literally dictated every single match from midfield in his last couple of seasons at the Lane. It is great to see him finally get the recognition he deserves over the last few years.

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