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From Tottenham Hotspur Stadium: There is always a conversation about Dele Alli.
When you achieve so many things so young, there will always be a focus on you. And if you’re not matching the heights of your teenage years, it will always turn into a ‘what went wrong?’ speak.
This has been Dele’s weirdest season at Spurs. His only Premier League start was on opening day, and he was hooked at halftime despite a decent performance.
Since then, he has been on the periphery of the Tottenham team with little explanation. The injury issues that have slowed him down a bit in recent years haven’t returned, he just hasn’t been playing.
When the Spurs were at the top of the table in the first half of the season, it made sense not to upset a winning team, but they have clearly lacked inventiveness since December.
Moving Tanguy Ndombele back to midfield has meant the Spurs at least have a pressure-resistant playmaker to help move the ball down the field, but they are still short on ideas when it comes to creating opportunities.
That has been a constant problem since Christian Eriksen first applied for a transfer in the summer of 2019 – Giovani Lo Celso and Erik Lamela are not of the same mold or quality, and are injured most of the time anyway.
But Dele at least offers the invention and ingenuity to help Tottenham in attack.
His beautifully executed aerial kick to put Spurs ahead in their 4-0 Europa League win over Wolfsberger on Wednesday night was the strongest proof of this. If you’re not trying movies (like the one that put together Tottenham’s greatest moment since 1984) or gimmicks (like the ones that rack up YouTube views for days), you’re trying to create something out of nothing to help the team.
The Spurs have played with a real mental block when things have not gone well with José Mourinho. Sometimes they just need a little spark to get going: a pass from Harry Kane, a shout from Son Heung-min, or from Dele.
The 24-year-old has rarely played poorly when in the company of Kane and Son. Maybe Mourinho’s desire to put his trust in inferior and less talented players is wrong, maybe he should start with his best footballers. Just a thought.
Tottenham have been miserable this winter, but the positive side is that everyone knows that this is not a team that performs at their best and that they have not always lined up on their strongest side. Obviously, there is a return route to get his season on track, and Dele’s reintegration is key.
A player of the obvious quality of Dele doesn’t just become the fodder for the ninth team in the Premier League. Last season alone he scored eight goals and four assists in 25 Premier League games; He only made 16 appearances in all competitions so far this season.
Share still has that and you don’t even need to adjust your game to be a great asset. You just need a platform again.
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