Is Dele Alli’s time at Tottenham coming to an end?
By Ben Mathias
After Dele Alli won back-to-back PFA Young Player of the Year accolades in 2015/16 and 2016/17, many would’ve tipped the man from Milton Keynes to become one of the biggest stars in football, and certainly one of the best from England. However, Dele has been on a steady decline at Tottenham since the 2017/18 season. Whilst the 2017/18 season still had bright moments for Dele, he was often seen as an inconsistent player, something that wouldn’t have been associated with him in the previous two seasons at White Hart Lane.
For the majority of Dele’s time at Spurs, he’s had a manager who always showed trust in him in Mauricio Pochettino. Despite it being a regular occurrence, Pochettino very rarely dropped Alli for his fluctuating performances, so as a result found himself to be starting most games. However, since November 2019, Jose Mourinho has been in charge of Tottenham and Dele has found a considerable decrease in game time, especially this season. Dele had made at least 25 appearances league in each of his 5 previous seasons, but this season has only racked up 9 Premier Leagues appearances with just 2 starts.
Mourinho hasn’t been as lenient with Alli as his predecessor was, and that can be applied with every player amongst the squad. Mourinho has adopted a “show me you should be in the team” attitude and has laid down the challenge to players such as Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso. Both of which have impressed despite having ongoing issues, with Ndombele seemingly turning his spurs career around in the last 12 months and Lo Celso’s frequent injuries have become a source of frustration. Dele did have a short renaissance under Mourinho just after his initial appointment in November 2019. Alli chipped in for 6 goals in Mourinho’s first 4 games, 3 goals and 3 assists, but has since struggled for consistency only contributing for a further 12 goals since December 2019 in all competitions. Dele used to be one of the first players Spurs could rely upon for a goal in years gone by, scoring a career high 18 Premier League goals in one season, but that just doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.
It seems the best move for all involved would be for Dele to depart to find a new club and a new challenge. We’ve recently seen how that can completely reinvigorate a player’s career after Jesse Lingard’s loan move to West Ham looks to be an emphatic success, ironically Alli has dropped out of the England team this year whilst Lingard has found his place in Southgate’s plans once again. Ex-manager and current PSG boss Pochettino was reportedly interested in taking Dele to Paris for the remainder of this season on loan. Supposedly green-lit by Mourinho, chairman Daniel Levy pulled the plug on the deal.
Perhaps Levy still feels Dele can rekindle his best form and unless he leaves for free after his contract expires, Spurs are very unlikely to lose money on him as he only cost £5 million. It’s a difficult scenario for tight-fisted Levy to be in. Levy has a reputation of buying cheap and selling high as well as squeezing as much profit out of a player as possible. It’s impossible to know when the right moment was or will be to sell Alli, but it’s unlikely Levy will get top dollar for Dele now with his value declining due to him getting older and wavering in form. In 2018 the CIES (International Centre for Sports Studies) considered Dele to be the world’s most expensive midfielder from a transfer value perspective. Fast forward almost 3 years and he’s out of the England set-up on the dawn of an international tournament and can’t stamp a place in Tottenham’s first team. Where next for Dele?