Everton boss Frank Lampard has said that Dele Alli lacks the focus necessary to continue being successful at the top level of professional football.
Alli’s career trajectory has nosedived over the past three years, with the attacking midfielder going from being considered one of the best players in the Premier League and a regular starter for England, to not even being capable of getting into a team that barely avoided relegation last season.
This week, the 26-year-old completed a season-long loan move to Besiktas, just seven months on from joining Everton.
Lampard has now delivered an honest assessment of the reason behind Alli’s stark decline, explaining that the former Spurs star simply does not have the focus necessary to be able to sustain a career at the top level of the game.
The Everton boss told The Mirror: “Look, I do have great empathy for the trajectory of his career in a sense, because it is just clear to see – I don’t have to dress that up in any way.
“So, having worked closely with him for a period, I have to say he really does need to understand the relation of training and focus at the highest level, to what that means to performance. I actually know on a personal level what training can do and focus can do, and that’s something he really has to take on board.”
Lampard, who certainly knows what it takes to make it at the elite level, remarked that it is not possible for a player to be successful if he is not completely dedicated to his craft.
When asked if Alli’s career is at a crossroads, he responded: “He’s at that point. That is the test for him now. That is my personal opinion. And I’m not saying anything there that I wouldn’t say to any player.
“He has to do it – every player has to do it. It is too elite, this sport is too elite at the top end. The focus has to be there and if you don’t have it (at this level) it is really really tough – and those are the rules.
“If you want to be in that (elite) bracket or to be influential at a club like Everton, or Tottenham where he was before, or anywhere, then you have to understand that relationship between focus (and dedication), and performance.
“It is just too elite. Every player has to have a version of what is best for them and what gets the most out of them. I wasn’t a Saint, and not every player will do the amount of training that a certain player does, but that focus HAS to be there.”
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Lampard has seemingly provided a clear-cut answer to the question that has been widely debated over the past few months – What caused Dele’s massive decline?
What the Everton boss says is understandable as football at the very top level is about fine margins and just a few per cent drop can make all the difference.
Dele’s decline is also a reminder that football is not just about talent and that it takes immense dedication to reach the levels that elite players do.
While fans always point to the money the players earn, they often tend to ignore the sacrifices that players need to make during the prime years of their life, to stay at the top.
Based on Lamaprd’s comments, it seems like Dele values other things more than football and is not prepared to make the required sacrifices.
I do not see that as being worthy of criticism as all human beings value different things. However, I cannot help but feel that 10 or 15 years from now, Dele might look back on his career with some regret and wonder ‘What if?’.
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