Opinion: Dele Alli’s situation at Tottenham has now become an awkward puzzle


Dele Alli played a key role in England reaching a World Cup semi-final, started a Champions League final, and won the PFA Young Player of the Year award in each of his first two Premier League seasons (Wikipedia).

As recently as March, he became the youngest English midfielder to score 50 Premier League goals — three years ahead of his closest competitor Frank Lampard. David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Steven Gerrard are also behind him on the list (Sun).

However, Dele’s horrid downfall has now seen him reverted to a mere puzzle. It isn’t easy to know where he fits into the team. He likes to be a number 10, but Tottenham Hotspur are now increasingly a 4-3-3 operation.

Given Spurs’ lack of spark and imagination of late, and the need for a supporting cast for Harry Kane and Son-Heung Min, it feels as though there could be a chance for Dele to impose his talents again.

Unfortunately, after Jose Mourinho’s comments after the Carabao Cup quarter-final against Stoke City, there may be no way back (The Times).

Mourinho was furious when he lost the ball after an attempted flick when Spurs were 1-0 up. Stoke then sent it forward, setting up the counter-attack which saw Jordan Thompson convert Jacob Brown’s cross to draw it level.

“For me, a player that plays in that position is a player that has to link, and has to create,” Mourinho said. “And not to create problems for his own team.”

After not singling out Serge Aurier for an even worse individual mistake against Leicester City, it appeared the issue was not the error itself – it’s just the fact that Dele and Mourinho’s relationship has clearly gone bitter.

So, this raises the question: should Spurs cash in? He’s English, 24-years-old, and has shown that when on top-form, he’s a top player. Daniel Levy will for sure be thinking he can get good money for him.

But is that a completely stupid idea?

If you can somehow get the best of Dele, it could add a more potent and creative addition to the attack. Someone of his talent and potential, without doubt, is being wasted on the bench.

Mourinho could attempt to remodel Dele’s game to fit this new system, as we have seen him play in a deeper midfield role before.

Another possibility is that he simply wants out of North London, which is a completely understandable conclusion. A lot of the emphasis is on Mourinho, but Dele also has to change his tone in order to forge a new path.

Something has to give.

What will it be?

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