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What is behind Dele Alli’s dramatic loss of form for Tottenham Hotspur?

Rob Meech

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Dele Alli
Photo: Reuters

Few players have enjoyed a rise as meteoric as Dele Alli’s. Plucked from the obscurity of League One football with MK Dons in 2015, for the meagre sum of £5 million, the 21-year-old has earned rave reviews for his performances at Tottenham Hotspur.

It didn’t take him long to break into the England set-up either, where he has become one of the first names on the team-sheet.

Despite not playing as a striker, Alli netted 18 Premier League goals last season and formed a deadly partnership with hot-shot Harry Kane, which was a major reason for Spurs’ runners-up finish.

Fast-forward to the present day however, and the narrative is somewhat different. Alli has struggled to reproduce his best form and, like Tottenham in general, failed to live up the high expectations placed upon him last summer.

Spurs are seventh position in the table – one point behind Burnley – and despite their praiseworthy efforts to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League, their hopes of domestic honours are already over. Many factors are at play, such as the relocation to Wembley while the new White Hart Lane is built.

So key was Alli last season that his drop in form has undoubtedly contributed to Spurs’ current malaise. He has only three top-flight goals to his name this term, which is considerably fewer than at this stage 12 months ago.

But it’s not just in front of goal where his influence has diminished. Alli has been dogged by accusations of diving and, more worryingly, ill-discipline. Although he has never been sent-off in the Premier League, the midfield schemer is notorious for being hot-headed.

He retrospectively received a three-match ban for violent conduct against West Bromwich Albion at the tail end of the 2015/16 campaign. It ruled him out of the denouement of the season and Tottenham’s faint title hopes vanished in his absence.

His fiery streak was evident again in last weekend’s 4-1 defeat by table-topping Manchester City. Alli lunged in late on Kevin de Bruyne and was lucky to escape unpunished. De Bruyne, meanwhile, was fortunate not to sustain a serious ankle injury. To compound matters for Alli, the Belgian scored City’s crucial second goal just minutes later.

Perhaps in endeavouring to turn around his poor form, Alli is striving too hard and becoming frustrated. This is manifesting itself in his on-pitch demeanour and resulting in reckless challenges.

Although he is a highly competitive individual who performs best when he is playing on the edge, there is a balance to be struck. It’s one that hasn’t been found this season. Alli, and his manager Mauricio Pochettino, will both be acutely aware of that.

Nonetheless, there is no denying Alli remains one of the brightest prospects in English football. It is easy to forget he is still several months shy of his 22nd birthday, with fewer than 100 Premier League appearances to his name.

Young players are by nature inconsistent, but his professionalism off the pitch will stand him in good stead to overcome the inevitable setbacks.

Throughout his career at Tottenham, Alli has shown he is a footballer of the highest quality, one around whom Pochettino and England manager Gareth Southgate can build their teams.

Yes, he is suffering from a dip which is symbolic of Tottenham’s travails. But as the saying goes, form is temporary, class is permanent. Both Alli and Tottenham will come through this tough spell if they keep the courage of their convictions.

Rob is a freelance writer, specialising in football, who previously worked as a sports journalist at the Dorset Echo. A long-standing AFC Bournemouth supporter, Rob can often be found on the terraces at the Vitality Stadium. Follow him on Twitter - @RobMeech

Tottenham Hotspur

Now valued at £31.3m, Tottenham could have got Cengiz Under for £11.7m

Tottenham tried to sign the Roma winger last summer, but he headed to Italy.

Mathew Nash

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It seems that AS Roma winger Cengiz Under is a wanted man this summer. Manchester City are reportedly keen on the player, after an excellent debut season in Serie A. As reported by Calciomercato the Turkish international has a fond admirer in the form of City boss Pep Guardiola.

That has since seen his market value make the headlines. It is reported by Hurriyet that Under is valued at €35 million (£31.3 million). That report also suggests Tottenham are keen on the player. It seems unlikely and rather interesting timing, considering it came just hours after an opinion piece in the British press about Tottenham revisiting their previous interest.

(Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Because Spurs were keen on the player last summer.

Ajanspor reported at one point that Tottenham were close to signing the player from Istanbul Basaksehir. However, he headed to Roma instead. The player himself spoke of why he decided on Italy over the UK.


“I was convinced after we heard Monchi’s plan. Monchi [Roma’s director of football] explained they were making big changes. He made it clear that he wanted me as a player for the first-team squad, not as a future prospect. He valued me as a footballer in my own right now, as a rising star with potential.”

Cengiz Under on why he chose Roma


Under has since gone on to have a great season in the Italian capital and has clearly caught the eye of other clubs.

The fee he joined Roma for was a bargain. The Giallorossi snapped up Under for a fee of just £11.7 million.

Tottenham must no doubt regret not managing to secure a deal for the player last summer. He was at a bargain price and proved to be a successful recruit.

If Tottenham want him again in the future, they are looking at paying double what they might have 12 months ago.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur round-up: Grealish wait, Pavard blow and new kits

All the latest news and gossip from Tottenham Hotspur.

Mathew Nash

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Grealish wait

Tottenham Hotspur are not likely to tie up a deal for Jack Grealish before Sunday, despite conflicting reports.

Spurs fly out on their US tour on Sunday and there has been some suggestions that Aston Villa want a deal done before then – with another tax bill looming.

But Football.London report that the two sides are still far apart on a fee and negotiations are unlikely to be done by the end of the week.

(Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Pavard blow

Tottenham have been linked with Stuttgart defender Benjamin Pavard this summer. The World Cup winner with France has been suggested as a potential replacement for Toby Alderweireld – whose future looks away from North London.

However, a report in Germany suggests that Spurs may be too late. SWR is claiming that Pavard has agreed on a pre-contract arrangement with Bayern Munich over a move to the German giants next summer.

They suggest he will join Bayern for €35 million (£31.3m) next summer.

New kits mixed reaction

Tottenham have unveiled their new kits for the upcoming season. The new strips have received a mixed reaction online, with the away kit being poorly received.

The home strip features a fading blue pattern from the bottom, which makes it appear Tottenham’s players have rather long shorts on.

Both kits have been lampooned and praised in equal measure on Twitter.

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Vincent Janssen’s mysterious Tottenham absence seems to suggest summer exit likely

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Photo: Getty Images.

Pre-season sprung into action for Tottenham on Wednesday as the Lilywhites played their first fixture of the preparatory campaign behind closed doors, resulting in a 6-0 thrashing of League One side Southend United, without Vincent Janssen.

Erik Lamela scored a hat-trick with Fernando Llorente Lucas Moura and youngster Tashan Oakley-Boothe also on the scoresheet, but one man was mysteriously absent from the fixture – Vincent Janssen.

Whilst Victor Wanyama, Serge Aurier, Ben Davies, Moussa Sissoko, Michel Vorm, Paulo Gazzaniga and Juan Foyth were all involved, Janssen was not to be seen despite having returned from a season long loan at Fenerbahce.

“I will soon report back to Tottenham and we will see what happens. I want to play, that’s important. Last season I was injured at Fenerbahçe for a long time. We are going to find the best solution. I just want to play football now, whether it’s at Tottenham, Fenerbahçe or somewhere else. I have my ideas about that, hopefully there will be more clarity soon.”

Janssen discussed his future with NOS earlier this summer.

The Dutch international scored only five goals in 18 games for the Turkish side on loan but did miss much of the season with a fracture to his ankle which was a major blow to his hopes to prove a point to Mauricio Pochettino.

Having struggled to adapt to life in London and the Premier League and without having done enough to justify a role in pre-season, his future looks more in doubt than ever.

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Turkish outlet Fotomac claim that Fenerbahce are interested in taking him back for the 2018/19 campaign, but his future could be dependent on other deals. Given that Fernando Llorente started against Southend with Janssen nowhere to be seen, it could be the starkest indication yet of who will play the role of back-up to Harry Kane next season.

Estadio Deportivo have also reported on interest from Sevilla in the 23-year-old, so with no clear role for Janssen to play at White Hart Lane and plenty of suitors, it seems that an exit is inevitable.

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