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.
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.
Tottenham should fear Toby Alderweireld’s potential exit
Losing the Belgian international would be a huge blow for the Lilywhites.
Reports from Belgian outlet Het Laatse Nieuws have linked Tottenham centre-half Toby Alderweireld with a £43 million exit from Spurs this summer after the north London club reportedly gave up on contract negotiations.
The loss of the Belgian international would be a severe blow to the Tottenham defense, as well as to the image of the club.
If Spurs want to take the next step and seriously challenge for the Premier League title and advance to the latter stages of the Champions League, they must keep hold of their biggest talents.
Alderweireld has been imperious for the north London side ever since he joined from Atlético Madrid in the summer of 2015. After impressing on loan with Southampton in the 2014/15 season, the centre-half excelled at White Hart Lane.
An integral part of the impressive Spurs teams of 2015/16 and 2016/17, Alderweireld was an ever-present in the backline. He played every single match in 2015/16 and 30 matches the following season.
And not coincidentally, these years coincided with tremendous defensive fortitude for Tottenham. In both seasons, Spurs boasted the best defensive record in the league, conceding just 35 and 26 goals respectively- a truly remarkable feat.
Yet this season, the Belgian’s involvement has been severely hindered due to a hamstring injury. Consequently, Spurs remain well off the pace for the title race and have already conceded 25 goals, almost surpassing the previous season’s total with eight matches to spare.
If the rumours of his impending departure are correct, Tottenham will suffer a major blow to their back four. Physically imposing and tactically adept, Alderweireld has been a colossus in the centre of defense for Spurs for three years now.
Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth are simply not capable replacements for the Belgian international, and a loss of Alderweireld would spell trouble for Tottenham’s title chances and European ambition in 2018/19.
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