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Mauricio Pochettino says Mousa Dembele has the capacity to continue playing at the highest level despite his ongoing fitness issues, suggesting the midfielder could stay at Tottenham beyond this summer.

Dembele, who twisted his ankle against Watford on Monday night and is a doubt for Saturday’s trip to West Brom, has just one year left on his current contract and has been linked with a move away in recent weeks.

The Belgian has reportedly put talks over a new Spurs deal on hold, and there have been suggestions he no longer feels capable to play regularly at a high level. A move to China has been touted, although Italian giants Juventus have been strongly linked.

Over the last few years, Dembele has struggled with hip and ankle injuries that have stopped him from lasting 90 minutes on more than a few occasions – Pochettino has been known to rest him ahead of important games more often than other players.

But when asked if Dembele can continue playing at his current level, the Spurs boss said: “We hope yes and I think yes.” (Quotes via ESPN.)

He added: “It’s not a problem but of course he’s a player we need to pay attention to, maybe more than another.

“Of course, we need to be careful about his ankle [at the moment] and then it’s about managing him in the best way to be fit, so he can play. He twisted his ankle and felt pain and now we need to wait a few days to see what happens but I don’t think it’s a big issue.”

Pochettino obviously wants Dembele to stick around. Whether that will be a factor in any decision the midfielder makes about his future this summer remains to be seen.

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