At the tail-end of 2013 Tim Sherwood’s Tottenham side are putting in a flat performance against Southampton at home.
Just after half-time Sherwood hooks Moussa Dembele and introduces an unknown Algerian by the name of Nabil Bentaleb.
Spurs go on to win the game 3-2 and by the end of it the then 19-year-old midfielders name is on every Spurs fans lips.
His tenacity and cultured style of play led to him quickly becoming a favourite of many fans.
New boss Maurcio Pochettino also liked what he saw initially, as he and Ryan Mason established themselves as the first choice central midfielders during Poch’s first campaign, culminating in a cup final and a 5th placed finish.
An extremely promising start to his career led to a new long-term contract offer.
The negotiations were protracted and it was during this time an uglier side of Nabil began to rear its head.
As with any young footballer, the more successful you are the more nefarious agents want to associate themselves with you.
This was the case with Bentaleb, as his stock grew so did the entourage of “advisors” in his ear.
Going public with his frustrations at how long the negotiations were taking, this was the first strike against Nabil.
He did interviews in which he claimed he was “tired” of the process and gushed at how flattering the interest from Champions League clubs was.
Combined with a start to the season that saw a horrendous performance away to Manchester United and trips away with the national team whilst not fully fit, saw the youngster slip behind a reborn Moussa Dembele and a converted Eric Dier.
The general excellence of these two players along with Nabil’s inability to get fully fit led to opportunities for the once highly-touted prospect to be limited.
A performance against Monaco in which Bentaleb seemed more interested in showboating on the edge of his own box instead of working for the team seemed to be the final confirmation Poch needed that Nabil was no longer needed in the team or around the squad.
The writing was on the wall when Pochettino left Bentaleb, among others, at home when Tottenham travelled to Australia for pre-season, with the Gaffer confirming to the press that those left behind were not to be part of his plans.
Things came to a head when Nabil reportedly went to Pochettino demanding came time otherwise he’d be packing his bags.
A short while later we see a loan move to Schalke has been completed with a return for Nabil looking unlikely.
With a rumoured £17million option to buy for the German club at the conclusion of the loan, it seems unlikely that we’ll ever see Bentaleb in a Spurs shirt again.
A Tottenham career that plummeted as quickly as it rose, the short yet coloured nature of Nabil Bentaleb’s time at Spurs leaves only one question. What if?
Written by Josh Smith
Follow the team across social media