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What next for Dele Alli at Tottenham?

Jose Mourinho wants to keep him but doesn’t want to play him. He’s barely featured in the first team this season, despite Spurs’ desperate lack of creativity lately. Which begs the question – what next for Dele Alli?

Mourinho blocked a January reunion with Mauricio Pochettino at PSG, leaving Dele in limbo. Is there a way back into the Spurs team for him under Mourinho?

Frustrated Spurs desperate for creativity

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In Tottenham’s 1-0 home defeat to Chelsea in February, they couldn’t muster a chance. Just one shot on target all game told its own story. They were crying out for some creativity in the final third with Harry Kane missing through injury. Perfect – you’d think – for Alli to step in.

It doesn’t look likely that he’ll come into the team anytime soon, even once his tendon injury clears up. Mourinho has disliked Alli from day one, and once that’s the case it’s hard for a player to shake off. Ask Paul Pogba.

An international-class player

There’s little doubting Dele Alli’s quality when he’s firing and on form. Usually an England regular, his Spurs exile has pushed him further down Gareth Southgate’s pecking order recently.

Dele wants minutes, for his own development and for his international chances. A loan move to PSG would’ve been the perfect platform to rebuild his once-sky-high reputation.

But Mourinho’s perception of a “lazy trainer” in Amazon’s “All or Nothing” documentary might have been an ominous foreshadowing of his feelings towards Alli.

Oddly, he seemed to respond well to this at the beginning of Mourinho’s reign, scoring and assisting plenty. But once again – seemingly inexplicably – Alli finds himself out of favour.

Jose Mourinho labels Dele Alli a “lazy trainer” in Amazon’s “All or Nothing” documentary. © Amazon

What next for Dele Alli?

With the European Championships looming (COVID depending of course), Alli needs to play. The strength of young creative midfielders in contention for an England place is growing, pushing him further to the fringes. James Maddison, Phil Foden, and Jack Grealish are all in fantastic form this season. It would take a prime Dele Alli to push that talent aside.

For neutrals, the chance to see him in another league, in a different team, and under a trusting manager would’ve been perfect. Pochettino would’ve given Alli a chance to play, to find his form. And with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe around him, the old magic could’ve returned. A stalemate like this is frustrating for everyone.

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Mourinho has been playing Dele in cup competitions mainly, so it looks like his biggest chance of a league start is to excel in the chances he does get.

That, and shaking off that “lazy trainer” tag on the training ground, once and for all.

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© Mike Barclay at The Football Diary 2020