What is Dele Alli at Tottenham these days? Ask a bunch of Spurs fans and you’ll get many different answers.
Some would argue that he just doesn’t fit into a Jose Mourinho squad, that his form over the past few years doesn’t justify an automatic role in their regular starting XI, or that he needs a move to get through. revitalize.
There will also be plenty of people pointing out Spurs’ current overreliance on goal pair Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, and that the team needs another threat from the midfield.
Neither side would be totally wrong.
Dele hasn’t reached the ridiculous heights he set for himself in his first three seasons with Tottenham in recent years, and yet the fact that 22 of the 29 goals Mourinho’s side have scored in the Premier League this quarter have been converted by Kane or Son shows another option is required.
It is certainly sad that the England international has been reduced to playing in the FA Cup third round matches against the eighth-ranked opposition, but if nothing else during a period when his future is in serious doubt, his performance in the Marines’ 5-0 victory displayed his obvious talent. He also showed he still has a sense of humor after falling backwards onto the lawn in Rossett Park.
The treatment and omissions of the squad have been odd, mainly because Dele remains among Tottenham’s top 20 players. Tanguy Ndombele is primarily used as a second striker, where Dele has played for most of his career, rather than a third central midfielder.
There is room for Dele to make his mark in the Premier League and other competitions this season. Tottenham will have to deal with match-ups and every squad member will likely be needed – especially if two to three games a week become the norm.
He’s too good a player to have played in just four league games, with those appearances totaling just 75 minutes of action. He’s also been forced to tweet too often about his activities off the pitch, like Call of Duty: Warzone, rather than on the pitch.
There is still room for Dele in this Tottenham team. He may never be trusted to play alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in the central midfielder, but it’s strange that he hasn’t been used more while Ndombele beefed up his fitness. The Frenchman has only gone 90 minutes three times so far this season, with Mourinho often choosing to take the midfielder out around the clock.
Dele obviously had fun on Sunday. The movies may not have drawn him to his coach, who made a point of criticizing the 24-year-old after the Carabao Cup win at Stoke, but he needed to score a point with a good performance and that’s exactly what he did.
Mourinho has hinted that Dele could feature midweek, with Spurs now having to face Fulham instead of Aston Villa, who have struggled due to coronavirus issues plaguing their squad.
Hopefully this can be the start of some kind of Dele-aissance. There is still a lot of football to be played this season, and he can make a difference in games if he gets the chance.
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