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Can anyone explain what a ‘Dele Alli’ does?

Dele Alli is just 23-years-old but he already seems a seasoned veteran.

There was a time when the mercurial Spurs star was the man for the big occasion.

After all, he’s scored against all the other members of the ‘top six’ and Real Madrid in his career.


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Back in action for the first time in months

Reuters
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Back in action for the first time in months

But Alli is in a bit of a funk.

He made his first appearance since the Champions League final defeat in May this week, his injury record now a real concern.

Alli has suffered four hamstring issues in the last two seasons alone, scuppering any hopes of momentum and consistency.

Alli’s hamstrings have let him down

Times Newspapers Ltd
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Alli’s hamstrings have let him down

Spurs themselves are struggling for rhythm and Alli is another major headache for Mauricio Pochettino.

There are unconfirmed reports that Alli has actually been dropped from the squad altogether for their clash with Leicester on Saturday, instructed to report for training at 9am instead.

He looks like a square peg in a round hole, a jack of all trades rather than a master of one.

Instant impact back in 2015

PA:Press Association
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Instant impact back in 2015

When he left MK Dons in 2015 he was a box-to-box midfielder, but then developed into one of the most effective second strikers in Europe.

But Spurs have evolved and the excellence of Heung-min Son and Lucas Moura means Alli has had to drop deeper into midfield, often on the left hand side of a diamond.

Son and Lucas’ performances in their run to the final in Madrid last season raised question marks about Harry Kane too, but at least Spurs’ number nine is still scoring regularly.

Frustration in Madrid

Getty - Contributor
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Frustration in Madrid

The same can’t be said for Alli, who laboured to just five goals and three assists in 2018/19.

Even Erik Lamela now looks a better alternative for Poch, more effective than Alli when coming on against Olympiakos on Wednesday night.

In fact Spurs maybe too spoilt for options in that department, with Christian Eriksen in and out of the team too during his contract saga.

Son has usurped Alli

Getty - Contributor
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Son has usurped Alli

A toxic cocktail of recurring injuries and the emergence of others means Alli is falling down the pecking order.

Neither contributing in attacking areas nor fulfilling defensive responsibilities, he looks lost in a congested Spurs midfield.

So much potential and early promise has faded, the honeymoon period very much over.

Someone on The Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast even said he is fast becoming Spurs’ answer to Theo Walcott.

Does anyone know his best position anymore?

AFP or licensors
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Does anyone know his best position anymore?

The same Alli complex applies for England too, with Gareth Southgate now settled on a 4-3-3 formation to utilise Kane, Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho.

He looks like he will have to morph back into an all round midfielder for club and country when his best position is clearly directly behind the striker.

For a player with so much zest things have turned stale at Spurs.

At 23 time is obviously on his side, but would a change of scenery make sense for both parties?