Fending off rival bids from Newcastle United and Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur secured a deal for MK Dons’ Dele Alli, at the eleventh hour on transfer deadline day. It is believed that Spurs paid £5million for the 18 year old, and agreed to immediately loan him back to Milton Keynes. If Alli even lives up to half of the expectations expert pundits are showering him with, then Spurs have made a shrewd investment. The question posed then is will he?
Any amateur statistician could analyse Alli’s goals to game ratio from this year and be impressed, especially considering he plays in a central midfield position. Currently sitting on 13 goals in 34 games, Alli has been a constituent part of MK Dons’ ferocious firepower – they are League One’s top scorers. It is also all too easy to watch a compilation video on the internet and get drawn into the hype. Watching these videos can make anyone a desktop scout, but these highlights are no substitution for watching 90 minutes of League One football week in week out. There is no question that Dele Alli possesses many of the attributes needed to make it to the very top: pace, physicality, passing, heading and shooting. However, what stands out most is the touches of class all too rare in some League One encounters.
This is precisely the point though. Many of the opposition Alli has faced thus far in his career leave a lot to be desired, especially considering he will be looking to break into a top Premier League side’s first team. I by no means wish to do a disservice to League One; I have watched hundreds of games at this level and many of them have provided great entertainment, some with genuine footballing quality. Unfortunately this does not happen on a regular basis. Sides towards the lower end of the table are no match for the distinctly better sides in the top six. This year is no exception and there is a vast chasm between Bristol City, Swindon Town, Alli’s Dons and the majority of the rest of the league. Therefore can we judge Alli based on what he can do against some fairly mediocre sides or should we reserve judgement for what he can do against the “bigger” boys?
On this premise, Alli has actually fared well. The “big” boys of his league are Bristol City and Swindon Town. Against the latter Alli scored in a 2-1 win, and despite a disappointing first match against Bristol City, his display in the home tie was a real advert for League One football, as the best sides in the division played out a thoroughly entertaining stalemate. This is without even mentioning his role in one of the finest moments of MK Dons’ short history – a 4-0 trouncing of Manchester United in August. Unusually for Alli and the MK Dons of 2014/15, he did not score or even get an assist against the Red Devils. Boss Karl Robinson selected him in a deeper role for this cup tie, where he was largely successful in nullifying United’s albeit inexperienced midfield. This deeper position aptly demonstrates his versatility, an invaluable asset for an aspiring player.
Of course, this argument that we can only judge players based on the standard of the opposition is inherently limited. Many top Premier League players of past and present have come from much more humble beginnings in the game than Alli. The Premier League of yesteryear contained a certain Ian Wright who started in non-league before signing for Crystal Palace. Today Palace have Yannick Bolasie on their books, who was just named in the African Cup of Nations squad of the tournament. Bolasie originally plied his trade at, amongst others, Hillingdon Borough. The current joint highest English scorer in the top division is QPR’s Charlie Austin – a former bricklayer and semi-professional at Wessex League side Poole Town. This highlights how talent can shine through no matter the league in which one plays. In fact, in some respects this can be beneficial. A player exposed to hours of physical first team football by 20 years of age is arguably more developed than a 20 year old fresh faced from a Premier League academy side. What would normally go in favour of the academy graduate is technical ability. However, Alli is technically very sound, and this coupled with this exposure to the demands of regular first team football in League One presents him the best of both worlds.
Only time will tell if Alli lives up to the great expectations placed on his 18 year old shoulders. He will see out the remainder of the season at his hometown Milton Keynes, and will hope to be a part of a successful promotion campaign before moving onto the promised land in North London. In theory he’s got it all: the attributes are there, the experience is there, the multi-million pound price tag is there. The rest is up to Alli.
Keanan Bennetts has perfect opportunity to impress Mauricio Pochettino this week
The left-sided star has a chance to impress in first-team training during the international break.
With the international week in full flow, plenty of teams in the Premier League have seen their squads diminished by call-ups to national teams.
Tottenham Hotspur are one such side. Nonetheless, with most of the first-team squad away with their respective nations, work continues at Hotspur Way.
In order for Spurs to have a full complement in training, plenty of young talent needs to be pulled in to the ranks.
Mauricio Pochettino will, therefore,e get a chance to see some of his young players training with regular first-team players such as Fernando Llorente, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura.
One player who will be training with the first-team this week is talented wide-man Keanan Bennetts, according to London Live.
The 19-year-old left-winger has been catching the eye for the club’s youth team in recent weeks, making the news after scoring a fantastic goal for the under-19s against Monaco in the UEFA Youth League last month.
Bennetts has also been attracting interest for his positional dexterity. The wide-man has played at left-back in recent times and it could be that is his future best position.
This week he will be up against some excellent players such as Lamela and Moura, who did not receive selection to the Argentina and Brazil national teams, respectively.
If he can prove himself with this calibre of player, Pochettino will have to take notice.
It is coming to a point in his Tottenham career when Bennetts has to make such an impact. The teenager is out of contract at Spurs in the summer and needs to ensure he is kept on for at least one more season.
Tottenham fans who follow the youth teams are certain he is deserving of such a chance. If he can show Pochettino what he is capable of this week, then a new deal will surely be in the pipeline for the talented wide-man.
Is Juan Foyth a ready-made replacement for Toby Alderweireld?
The Argentine youngster joined Tottenham Hotspur from Estudiantes last summer.
According to reports in Belgium this week, Tottenham Hotspur have given up hope of keeping Toby Alderweireld.
HLN has reported Spurs have accepted defeat in trying to convince the Belgian of signing a new deal after failing to agree on wages.
Therefore, Tottenham will sell the 29-year-old this summer, with £43 million the asking price.
Tottenham could be looking for a new signing in the summer to replace him, but rather than spending big on a new recruit, they should instead give a chance to someone already at the club.
The player in question is Argentine defender Juan Foyth.
Spurs brought in the young defender from Estudiantes last summer for a fee reported to be in the region of £10 million by ESPN.
His signature was heralded as a success for the London outfit after the Times had reported PSG had instead got the youngster.
Foyth has played just eight times for Tottenham this season, with none of those appearances coming in the Premier League.
But at just 20-years-old and new to English football, that was to be expected.
Mauricio Pochettino is known to be a huge fan of his countryman and Foyth has impressed in the FA Cup this season.
As a ball playing centre-half he is the type of player Tottenham want at the back to take the team into the future.
With Alderweireld gone, Tottenham will be short a defensive option.
Jan Vertonghen will be the pillar in the centre of defence, with Davinson Sanchez an impressive talent alongside him.
Eric Dier’s versatility makes him an option. Foyth would then argue the case that he is next in line and deserves a shot at establishing himself in the Tottenham first-team.
It is certainly a possibility.
Tottenham also have highly-rated American defender Cameron Carter-Vickers out on loan at Ipswich Town, who could take Foyth’s place as fifth-in-line, if Tottenham give the Argentine his chance.
The likelihood is that Spurs will bring in a new recruit to replace Alderweireld. Perhaps a player with more experience will instead be pursued.
Foyth has not yet proved himself in the Premier League, so laying it on the line for him next season would be a massive risk by Pochettino and Tottenham.
But there is certainly a chance that the £10 million youngster could take Alderweireld’s place next season.
Clement Lenglet is the perfect replacement for Toby Alderweireld
The French defender has been in fine form for Sevilla.
When Manchester United were dumped out of the Champions League by Sevilla last week, plenty of the La Liga side’s players put in heroic displays.
Wissam Ben Yedder, the goalscorer of both Sevilla’s goals on the night received the highest praise. However, it was defender Clement Lenglet who deserved the biggest plaudits.
The 22-year-old did a wonderful job of shackling Romelu Lukaku for most of the game, putting in a brave and assured performance at centre-back.
It was a display that undoubtedly won him some fans, and Tottenham Hotspur should be one of them.
It looks increasingly likely that Tottenham will lose Toby Alderweireld in the summer.
HLN in Belgium reported this week that Spurs have ended contract talks with the Belgian and are prepared to sell him for £43 million.
Tottenham, therefore, have a potential gap in the centre-back position.
Lenglet is the perfect option. Not only is he good enough, as he proved by United last week, but he fits the profile of a Tottenham signing.
The Sevilla defender is just 22 years of age and has years ahead of him to develop. Then, there is his release clause.
According to a recent report from Diario AS, the Frenchman has a release clause of just €30 million (£26.2 million).
Such a fee for a player of his talent and his age would amount to daylight robbery.
Lenglet, who only joined Sevilla from Nancy last summer, would be the perfect option for Spurs to replace Alderweireld.
He could rotate with fellow young talent Davinson Sanchez playing alongside the more experienced Jan Vertonghen in defence.
With a Frenchman behind him in Hugo Lloris and French speaker in Vertonghen, he would not have to worry much about the language barrier just yet.
Strong, fast, capable on the ball and a raw talent he is exactly the sort of player Mauricio Pochettino could mould into a future Tottenham star.
Alderweireld’s exit will no doubt be a shame for Tottenham.
Nonetheless, if they can bring in Lenglet for £17 million less than they sell the Belgian for, the club will have pulled off a masterstroke.
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