Once the great white hope of the future of England’s football, Dele Alli’s future is in huge doubt now as it’s been revealed that Tottenham want to sell.
Alli was left out of the match-day squad for a second consecutive game by Jose Mourinho in their 5-2 win over Southampton on Sunday, having been substituted at half-time by Mourinho in the opening game of the season.
It emerged almost immediately in the press that Dele is deemed as surplus at Spurs now and has been offered to clubs in a bid to get him to leave. Real Madrid rejected the offer to include him in the deal that saw Gareth Bale return to North London while it’s now believed that he has been offered to Paris Saint-Germain.
Whether he leaves the club or not is still up in the air, but for anyone who was a fan of the free-scoring attacking midfielder of two years ago will have seen how the trajectory of his career has fallen.
His link-up with Harry Kane under Mauricio Pochettino was clear for all to see and saw him put up phenomenal numbers for a young player who made the step up directly from League One with MK Dons. But as the goals and assists fell away, the performances began to leave a shell of the player that many were calling the future of the national team.
So what now? If he does leave the club, does he excel or do he continue to get worse? Can he get worse?
PSG seems to be the most likely destination at the moment for him, and he would add something to their team that they don’t currently have – goals from midfield. His natural attacking instinct is to break forward from midfield and arrive into the box late but the problem he has had is that the club tried to play him as a traditional central midfielder. He isn’t that. He doesn’t have the skillset. His passing isn’t great, defensively he’s poor, positionally he is suspect and physically he isn’t imposing in the slightest for a Mourinho-style midfield.
He is the definition of a luxury player. He needs freedom, he needs to play off instincts rather than following a system. Somewhere like PSG is perfect for that with the base they already have and the dominance they hold over other teams in their league. With Marco Verratti and one of Ander Herrera, Idrissa Gueye or Leandro Paredes behind him, Dele would be surrounded by Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Angel Di Maria and Mauro Icardi while playing closer to the goal. It almost screams perfection.
One thing he probably wouldn’t enjoy is that against better opposition, it’s likely to be him that would be sacrificed from the team to accommodate a more solid structure in midfield.
With Spurs apparently looking to replace Dele with Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard, it says a lot about how far his stock has fallen. He needs to be loved, he needs to be protected but that is not Mourinho’s style. A fresh break seems like it could be perfect for him.
He’s only 22 years old so has a long career ahead of him. There is plenty of time for Dele Alli to get back to what he once was, whether he can or not is a different thing entirely.