I thought we had a world beater on our hands: With the world at his feet where did it go wrong for Dele Alli?

Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur breaks away with the ball during the UEFA Europa Conference League group G (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur breaks away with the ball during the UEFA Europa Conference League group G (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur breaks away with the ball during the UEFA Europa Conference League group G (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Taking the Premier League by storm as a teenager to looking a shadow of his former self. Where did it all go wrong for Dele and can he ever recapture his old form?

Go back five years and ask any football fan who will be the best English player in five years, it’s not a bad assumption to assume at least 90% would say Dele.

The midfielder, signed by Tottenham in 2015, lit up the Premier League whilst still just a teenager and arguably could have walked into any team in the league.

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Signed from MK Dons in 2015 for a fee of £5 million, not many expected Dele to have the impact he did. In his first two seasons at White Hart Lane, he was voted PFA Young Player of the Year and made the PFA Team of the Year.

How did the man go from that, to just not have an impact anymore?

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In the 2016/2017 season, Spurs went unbeaten at home and challenged for the Premier League but were outdone by the tactical genius of Antonio Conte as his Chelsea team made light work of the league and broke multiple records along the way.

Ngolo Kante of Chelsea and Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur battle (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)Ngolo Kante of Chelsea and Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur battle (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Ngolo Kante of Chelsea and Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur battle (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images) | Getty Images

A leading light that season was Dele, he was in the form of his life and was terrorising defences every week, but how was it to watch him week in week out from the stands?

“He (Dele) was superb. One of the players I always looked out for when I went to watch us that season, he was fearless with the ball at his feet, ran at people and wanted to make things happen. I thought we had a world beater on our hands”.

Coming off two remarkable seasons, the transfer rumours inevitably started with clubs such as Manchester City rumoured as being interested in the then teenager. But, being at heart of Spurs’ golden generation, were fans worried he would leave?

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“I certainly thought might leave, I was very fearful that Barcelona or Real Madrid could come knocking for him, especially after he single handedly beat Real Madrid on his own in 2017! And if he had a couple more seasons like the 16/17 one, I definitely thing he could have been in the topic of conversation for the Balon d’Or”

“So, after his golden season that really put his name on the map, the lad from Milton Keynes seemed to have the highest of ceilings.

“He came to the club with absolutely no expectations as he had joined from a league one club, and with no disrespect to that league, it’s relatively unheard of for a player to come from that league do what he did.

Was it just a fluke season like a Michu or was he destined to just get better?

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“It only seemed to be going up, he joined us, and nobody really knew too much but after a classy assist on his debut against Qarabaq in the Europa League, he pretty much came a permanent fixture under Pochettino in our attacking quartet of Kane, Son, Dele and Eriksen”.

But in 2021, it’s like a whole different player.

“He’s a shadow of his former self which is really hard to see.

“For someone who was so fearless and so good for his age just three to four years ago, I think the sacking of Pochettino really hurt him, then his well-documented relationship (or lack thereof) With Mourinho did him no favours at all.

“He seems slower now, always going for the ‘safe’ ball, rather than daring and taking risks like he used to.”

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Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur talks to Jose Mourinho, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur as he prepares to be substituted (Photo by Carl Recine - Pool/Getty Images)Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur talks to Jose Mourinho, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur as he prepares to be substituted (Photo by Carl Recine - Pool/Getty Images)
Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur talks to Jose Mourinho, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur as he prepares to be substituted (Photo by Carl Recine - Pool/Getty Images) | Getty Images

In a Spurs side that sit in the UEFA Conference League playing against teams from countries you’ve never heard of, and labouring to defeats at West Ham, surely, he can be a part of this team and make some sort of an impact?

“Now, I believe Nuno has his settled first eleven and that doesn’t include Dele, the front four seem to be Kane, Ndombele, Lucas and Son.

“Despite his promising signs against Man City on opening day and his winner away at Wolves, he hasn’t kicked on at all since then for me and seems a long way off the starting eleven”.

How does a player go from being on everyone’s lips, and being the first name on the team sheet and being on the periphery of the squad?

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When asked on what Spurs fans believe is the reason for his downfall: “Once again, this is a hard one, people can pinpoint the appointment of Jose and how he treated Dele as his downfall, but I feel it started earlier than that, he, like a few of our players got too comfortable in their spots and never seemed to be dropped for bad performances.

“They felt like they could rest on their laurels, then still be in the team a week after a poor performance and I sadly think Dele falls into that category.”

All is not lost for Dele; time is one his side. He is only 25, so two years from entering his prime. Current manager Nuno Espirito Santo has claimed he can get Dele firing again, and there’s still hope he can fulfill the potential he once showed all of them years ago. Taking the Premier League by storm when you’re only a teenager is something not many have done.

Only maybe Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney have done what he has at such a young age in the Premier League. There is a player in there and hopefully that player emerges soon.

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