Back in 2013, it looked as if Nabil Bentaleb was going to become one of Tottenham's latest success stories out of their youth academy.
The physical midfielder burst onto the scene at White Hart Lane with some very tidy and commanding performances, but the Algerian international was pretty similar to the center midfielders already at the club's disposal.
Mousa Dembele, Sandro, Paulinho and Etienne Capoue all jostled for position with the 22-year-old while he was in the white half of north London, and all represent strong, industrious midfielders.
His production from the middle of the park was also questionable.
Bentaleb managed one goal in 66 outings for Spurs over the course of three seasons and despite signing a five-year contract in 2015, the arrival of Victor Wanyama and the rise of Eric Dier pushed the French-born midfielder down the Tottenham pecking order.
He was subsequently loaned out to German side Schalke last summer to spend the 2016-17 season at the Veltins-Arena and although the Germans currently sit 11th in the table and below expectations, Bentaleb has had a personally effective campaign.
Not only the club’s top goalscorer in the Bundesliga this season with four strikes, but he is also Schalke’s primary creator and, alongside left-back Sead Kolasinac, Bentaleb is the joint-first assist provider in the club this term.
Still, most Tottenham fans will be shocked to learn just how much the club are about to receive as a result of his exploits. German publication Bild is reporting that Schalke will pay Spurs £16.2m when Bentaleb makes his next appearance for them.
Originally, the deal in place called for the move to be made from a loan to a permanent deal after 20 appearances. But factoring in his African Cup of Nations sabbatical last month, that number has been revised to 18, with 17 games already under Bentaleb's belt.
It is believed that the midfielder would sign a four-year contract with Schalke and his current preference is to stay in Germany rather than return to north London and fight for his place.
Spurs have gone from strength to strength this season and the midfield base of Dembele and Wanyama has been one of their most crucial partnerships.
Perhaps it is best for both parties that Bentaleb makes that 18th appearance.News Now - Sport News