Seven goals in Tottenham’s last four Premier League matches, including three braces in a row, Dele Alli is beginning to prove that last season was no flash in the pan built upon nothing but youthful exuberance.
“the most important player to emerge in English football in recent years”.
Such compliments were always going to be offered to the former MK Dons player from his current manager, Mauricio Pochettino, much like Arsene Wenger ‘believes’ the same about Jack Wilshere and George Graham no doubt thought about Seth Johnson. However, this time, Poch’s comments ring truer than just a manager blowing smoke up his own player’s arse.
There’s something quite special about Dele Alli.
20 – Youngest Englishmen to 20 PL goals:
M.Owen: 18y 246d
W.Rooney: 19y 83d
R.Fowler: 19y 189d
A.Smith: 20y 197d
@Dele_Alli: 20y 268d
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 5, 2017
The impressive brace against Antonio Conte’s side brought Alli up to 20 Premier League career goals, in his 52nd appearance.
Nothing about that goal-to-game ratio that is too special, but it’s certainly respectable. But then you realise that Paul Scholes took 74 games to reach the landmark, David Beckham (90), Frank Lampard (140) and Steven Gerrard (169).
The bonus that Alli has had, and MK Dons and Tottenham deserve a lot of credit for this, is that he’s been allowed to thrive with the clubs’ mentality clearly being: ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough’; Alli plays with freedom usually only offered to the elite creative players; Mesut Ozil, David Silva and the like.
Dele Alli waving goodbye to Chelsea's winning streak like…👋https://t.co/M4ouIEvXAb
— Footy Memes (@FootyMemes) January 5, 2017
The hype around the England international, however, draws out one of the worst traits in football, and that is the carefree and lazy comparisons: he’s black, tall and French? Oh, it’s the next Patrick Vieira. Short? Ahh, that’s Claude Makelele’s replacement. English centre-midfielder, who scores goals? Well it’s none other than the heir to Frank Lampard’s throne.
The comparisons with the Manchester City legend, Lamps, and LA Galaxy’s one-club man, Steven Gerrard, are all too easy – but expected – when it comes to Dele Alli, but they’re wide of the mark – although if football fans can’t gather some form of faux importance from these irrelevant and nonsensical debates, then they’d have to accept that the game no longer ‘needs’ them.
But if you do want to sit here and compare Alli to an English attacking-midfielder, and for it to have any form of substance behind it, then look no further than Southampton hero, Matt Le Tissier.
The failure to draw comparisons with the Saints hero, highlights the blinkered view of the media when it comes to the big clubs and players. Want to know how long it took Le Tissier to get to 20 Premier League goals?
Yep, that’s right, quicker than all of the players on that list earlier. The bloke Sir Alex Ferguson regrets never being able to sign. And although now a foolish and lacking of substance Sky Sports pundit – which seems to be the criteria to work there – Le Tissier is the closest in terms of playing style to Spurs’ latest fan favourite.
If Alli carries on, the Lilywhites fanbase will have a new (Le) God.