With Dele Alli being frozen out of the first-team picture at Tottenham Hotspur, The Hard Tackle takes a look at three possible destinations for him in January.
From being one of the most heralded attacking midfielders in England to a bit-part player who rarely starts and gets substituted at half-time when he does, Dele Alli’s downfall at Tottenham Hotspur has been swift, to say the least.
Upon arriving from lower league outfit MK Dons back in 2015, not many would’ve envisaged the impact that he’d go on to make at the highest level. However, Alli, under the watchful eye of Mauricio Pochettino, took the Premier League by storm, scoring a bucketload of goals, some of which were simply outrageous.
Naturally, comparisons to one of the best goal-scoring midfielders to have ever played in the Premier League in Frank Lampard started to do the rounds. And those never felt unwarranted or out of place, because Alli was living up to the hype on the field, and along with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, elevating Tottenham to greater heights while doing so.
A tally of 63 goals from 228 appearances is quite impressive for a midfielder. Alli, back in 2017, became the fastest midfielder to reach the 20-goal mark in the Premier League, beating the likes of Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes to the milestone. Earlier this year, the England international netted his 50th league goal for Tottenham, once again doing so quicker than the aforementioned legends.
50 – Dele Alli is the seventh player to reach 50 Premier League goals for Spurs – only Harry Kane (23 years 44 days) reached this milestone at a younger age for the club than Alli (23 years 331 days). Knack. pic.twitter.com/ScAzJt2cPC
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 7, 2020
In spite of all his positive attributes and exploits at just 24 years of age, Alli’s form has been on the wane for quite a while now. The England international’s form had nosedived towards the end of 2018/19 campaign when Spurs had made it to the finals of the UEFA Champions League and continued into the start of the 2019/20 season.
With Mauricio Pochettino getting the sack and Jose Mourinho getting the Tottenham job, things looked up for Alli. And there was a sharp upturn in his performances early in the Portuguese’s tenure as well, with Alli being one of the key protagonists of the positive start to life under Jose. with four goals and three assists in the manager’s first five games in charge.
However, that proved to be just a false dawn as things have once again gone downhill for the former MK Dons man. So far in the new season, Alli has started just three matches across all competitions – and has been subbed off at half-time in two of those. In total, the England international has featured in just games, clocking up 243 minutes of action, scoring just the solitary goal.
“You always ask why this player is not playing. Maybe now, for a few weeks, you won’t ask me that because you have the answer,” Mourinho said of Alli after Tottenham’s defeat to Royal Antwerp in the UEFA Europa League.
That was pretty much a death knell for his chances at Tottenham going forward. With things not likely to improve for him at the club and his spot in the England squad also lost ahead of the summer’s European Championships, a possible exit in January, either on loan or permanently, would make sense for Alli.
⚪️ “Now is the time to break the ties with #THFC.”
💔 “Dele’s had his football heart broken by Mourinho.”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) November 3, 2020
The midfielder may be going through a difficult phase, which has come after a couple of difficult thigh and hamstring issues. But there is no questioning the talent and the potential that Alli possesses, with ex-manager Pochettino going on to compare him to footballing icons like Ronaldinho and Diego Maradona not very long ago.
So, should he look to push for a move in January, there isn’t likely to be a shortage of suitors for his services. And, to that end, The Hard Tackle takes a look at three potential destinations that the ex-MK Dons man could join in the winter transfer window.
Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first. As soon as it became clear that Alli’s situation at the club was far from secure, the French champions pounced, trying to sign up the England international on a season-long loan deal in the summer transfer window. However, their overtures were turned down by Tottenham, which left everyone puzzled, considering that Mourinho has hardly played him since.
While they were snubbed in the summer, PSG are believed to still retain an interest in the 24-year-old and are likely to come back for him in January, should the midfielder be made available for an exit. And, a temporary switch to the Parc des Princes would serve well for all parties involved.
Alli, by joining PSG, would ensure that he continues to play at the highest level, with Champions League football a given at the French capital outfit, while also challenging for other domestic trophies. A switch to the Ligue 1, where he will not be under as intense scrutiny as in England, would allow the 24-year-old to get back into his groove at a gradual pace.
PSG, for their part, will be getting a player, who can add goals from midfield, which could help ease the burden on the deadly duo of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, who have had a stop-start campaign so far with injuries.
For the fallen giants of European football, who are gradually working their way back to where they belong, adding a quality operator like Alli to the ranks would further serve as a shot in the arm to their ambitions of a return to the top.
AC Milan have Hakan Calhanoglu as the only option in the No. 10 role currently, with Brahim Diaz, who has done fairly well this term, only on loan from Real Madrid. And with the former’s contract set to run out at the end of the campaign, he has been linked with a potential exit from the club. Thus, adding another central attacking midfielder to the ranks, wouldn’t be the worst move for the Rossoneri.
While it is true that Alli isn’t similar to Calhanoglu in the way they operate on the field, the fact that he can contribute with valuable goals with his ghosting runs from midfield and the potential of him linking up with and playing off of someone like Zlatan Ibrahimovic is something that is sure to appeal to the club hierarchy as well as the supporters.
As far as Alli is concerned, he will be plying his trade at a club of huge stature, that is showing signs of improvement under the management of Stefano Pioli and have a genuine chance of challenging for a trophy this season, considering the start they have made.
Might be a left-of-centre choice, considering Real Madrid rejected a chance to sign Dele Alli this past summer, as part of the deal that saw Tottenham bring back Gareth Bale. However, taking a deeper delve into things, this is a deal that could end up benefitting both parties if an agreement is struck.
Real Madrid have endured a strange start to the season, which has put manager Zinedine Zidane under pressure early into the campaign. Goals, or lack thereof, continue to be an issue, considering that Los Blancos remain over-reliant on Karim Benzema to deliver the goods. Adding someone of Alli’s attributes would not only help alleviate some of the pressure on the Frenchman but also help bolster the Madrid midfield unit.
The Merengues allowed James Rodriguez to leave in the summer, while Isco is now pushing for an exit ahead of the January window. Given Luka Modric’s age, the Croat isn’t in a position to play a match every three days which has become the norm this season owing to the jam-packed schedule. So, strengthening the midfield unit wouldn’t be the worst move by the Madrilenian outfit as they look to defend their La Liga crown.
Signing Alli would allow Zidane to tinker with his formation and play him as an auxiliary forward to support Benzema at the top. As for Alli himself, playing for a club as huge as Real Madrid would be motivation enough to help get things back on track.