An interesting article on espn.co.uk from their Tottenham correspondent Dan Kilpatrick.
He starts by creating a hypothetical situation for us, “It’s summer 2018 and FA Cup winners Tottenham have a decision to make. Barcelona have offered a world-record fee for Christian Eriksen, who finished with the most assists at the World Cup, but Real Madrid have done the same for England’s quarterfinal villain Dele Alli. Finances at Tottenham are tight after finishing the new stadium and Ballon d’Or winner Harry Kane needs another new contract”
Kilpatrick continuing with his hypothetical scenario saying that Daniel Levy and Mauricio Pochettino reluctantly agree to sell one of the midfielders and that Levy promises Poch to at least half the fee to reinvest in a replacement. He then asks in his hypothetical situation which of the two should Spurs sell?
He reckons, and is probably right that the majority of Spurs fans would sell Alli even if they think he is just as valuable as Eriksen.
The article goes on to say that Dele directly contributed to two more league goals last season — 25 to Eriksen’s 23 — and that he is younger. Kilpatrick says that Eriksen is the finished article, but Alli is still learning and the 21-year-old has far more “marketability” than the Dane, which is so valuable to football clubs nowadays.
Currently Kilpatrick believes Christian would be harder to replace. He says the “deadpan” Dane is the “lifeblood” of Tottenham’s creativity, which is definitely true. He says that without Eriksen, Spurs would be lost as there isn’t anyone to match the Dane in our squad. He also reckons it’s one of our biggest weaknesses and that it probably explains why Poch was interested in signing Barcelona’s Andre Gomes.
Kilpatrick goes on to praise Alli, by calling him best goal-scoring midfielder in the Premier League. That he “has a rare ability to find space in the box and finish, and he is developing into the ultimate right-place-right-time player, who frequently makes no contributions except the most important ones”
Kilpatrick believes it’s this reason that Dele he is more easily replaced than Eriksen in one-off games, as Spurs proved in the landmark 3-1 win against Borussia Dortmund, when Alli’s replacement Son Heung-Min opened the scoring.
He then asks If Pochettino was forced to choose which of the two he would rather lose to injury for the next three months?, he would surely pick Alli.
He says replacing Eriksen would be a daunting task, but it would be even harder for Pochettino to find someone like Alli especially someone that would bring the same or similar ration of goals.
He does say Eriksen is a unique talent but that European leagues are full of brilliant playmakers, and most of our top-six rivals have one like Phillipe Coutinho at Liverpool or Kevin de Bruyne at Manchester City and that their is also no shortage of young options with high potential, like Ante Coric (Dinamo Zagreb) or Dani Ceballos(Real), or they could trust Pochettino to take someone like hid compatriot West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini up a couple of levels .
He goes on to say even though Eriksen makes everyone around him better, that Dele is a “difference-maker capable of moments of genius and decisive interventions out of nothing”. That he is unique and none of our nearest rivals have a player that will, as Alli should, score 20+ goals a season. He also says that it is so difficult to buy guaranteed goals, particularly from a deeper position, as we have found in recent years and that makes Alli a precious commodity.
He concludes by bringing us back to the here and now, saying we are lucky to have both. He isn’t suggesting that we will have to sell either next summer or beyond. They both have different styles and strengths which Kilpatrick says are perfect for Pochettino, which if given the choice, it makes it even harder to say which player.
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