Is Dele Alli Important to Tottenham?

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14th October 2017, Wembley Stadium, London England; EPL Premier League football, Tottenham Hotspur versus Bournemouth; Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur (Photo by Shaun Brooks/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Since signing from MK Dons in 2015, Dele Alli has established himself as one of the  brightest young prospects in football, and has attracted interest from some of the biggest clubs in the world. There are reports that he is set to be offered a new contract at Tottenham to discourage interested parties, but should the right offer come along, it will raise questions as to just how important he is.

“All he does is score”

One of the biggest criticisms of Alli’s play is his perceived reliance on goals. Granted he can often be frustrating but at only 21 years old this is to be expected. The view that his contribution to the team is “only” through scoring goals is not entirely correct either. In his first two seasons at Spurs, he contributed 16 assists in total, along with the 28 goals he managed in that time. That is a far larger contribution than the vast majority of players.

Even the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Kylian Mbappé, both of whom have been the subject of incredibly high bids, cannot match Alli’s base statistics. In these two areas, the Englishman is outperforming one of football’s hottest properties who is four years his senior and a fellow youth prospect who has already been labelled world-class. It is fair to say that he is doing enough to contribute his fair share to the side.

Hot head

Dele Alli’s young age and inexperience is most evident in his indiscipline.  He received his first red card for Spurs for a dangerous tackle on Brecht Dejaegere in Tottenham’s Europa League draw with K.A.A. Gent, which resulted in Spurs exiting the compition. This has been the only red card of Alli’s Tottenham career so far, but he has been lucky to escape similar punishment on several occasions when he has lashed out against his opponents.

Recently, Alli received a one-game international suspension for being caught making an offensive hand gesture during an England international. Although the incident was blown out of proportion and other players have done similar things on the pitch, he should have understood the situation he was in and the number of cameras surrounding him which would have been ready to catch him out for any misdemeanours.

His petulance is another reason that he is yet to be considered fully reliable, and considering the high-pressure environments he is likely to experience as he and Tottenham continue to improve it will undoubtedly make Mauricio Pochettino nervous at how he’ll react to provocation when the stakes are at their highest.

Boy wonder

So far, Alli has won back-to-back PFA Young Player of the Year awards. At 21 years of age, he is one of the English national side’s most prized assists and is getting almost 20 goals in a season from midfield. In comparison, team-mate Harry Kane was on loan at the likes of Leicester City and Leyton Orient in the Championship at the same age.

The idea that Alli is expendable is ridiculous and attacks on his consistency are unwarranted given his young age. He is nowhere near the finished article and given what he has displayed so far this should excite fans of Tottenham and England, not lead them to jump on his back at every poor touch.

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