After making his debut as a 16-year-old at MK Dons, Dele Alli quickly became one of the most coveted players in English football. In his first full season in the senior team, Dele made 33 appearances in League One, scoring six goals and assisting three from central midfield. The player’s goal production skyrocketed with increased minutes the following season and in the first half of the season, Tottenham had seen enough to bring the player in, beating off competition from the likes of Liverpool in the process. Dele was loaned back to MK Dons for the final half of the 14/15 season and finished the campaign with 16 goals and nine assists in 39 League One appearances.
The midfielder instantly found his feet in the Premier League and quickly became one of Mauricio Pochettino’s key men in North London as part of the youthful revolution that was beginning at Tottenham. During this time, Tottenham became Champions League regulars as well as challenging for the Premier League title in the 16/17 season and reaching the Champions League final in the 18/19 season. Dele also broke into the England senior side and became a regular at international level.
From the hangover of the Champions League final defeat, Tottenham had a very slow start to the 19/20 season and the long-serving Pochettino was replaced by Jose Mourinho in attempt to rescue the season. Dele initially saw a resurgence to form after Mourinho’s arrival with four goals and three assists in the Portuguese’s first seven games at the Club. However, following the postponement of the Premier League season due to the Coronavirus pandemic, injuries and fitness issues restricted Dele to just 88 minutes of football after the season resumed.
In Tottenham’s lacklustre performance in the first game of the season against Everton, Dele was replaced at half-time and has only appeared since in the Europa League victory over Shkendija. After being left out of the match-day squad in the EFL Cup game against Chelsea, it became clear that Dele is no longer part of Mourinho’s current plans.
Initial speculation saw rumours that Dele would be included in the deal that saw Gareth Bale and Sergio Regulion move to Tottenham although Real Madrid reportedly turned down the opportunity to bring the Englishman to the Bernabeu. Inter Milan appear to be the front-runners in the player’s signature, with Antonio Conte apparently keen to bolster his midfield with yet another former Premier League player. However, following Conte’s disputes with the hierarchy at Inter, it remains to be seen whether the Italian will be able to invest heavily in his playing squad for another season. Therefore, a season-long loan move with an option to make the deal permanent would seem to be the most likely option should Dele leave North London. Alternatively, Tottenham are rumoured to be interested in Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar so a swap deal is also a feasible option. Finally, PSG are also said to be keen to bring the Englishman across the channel. Currently, Leandro Paredes, Marco Verratti, Ander Herrera and Julian Draxler are the only fit senior midfield options at the Capital club with Idrissa Gueye absent with an ankle injury. Gueye and Draxler are also rumoured to be unwanted at the Parc des Princes so a move for Dele seems feasible. Again, the most likely option to sign the player appears to be an initial loan with an option to buy.
With regards to the player’s value, our calculations currently value Dele at £54.76m. Whilst Tottenham are likely to try and hold out for a much larger fee, this valuation seems fair in the current market. Despite the speculation though, Jose Mourinho remains adamant that he wants to keep the midfielder at Tottenham for now even though Dele doesn’t seem to be part of his plans. Mourinho has a history of freezing out big-name players such as Iker Casillas, Eden Hazard, Paul Pogba and Tanguy Ndombele. Whilst this has usually ended acrimoniously, this man-management style certainly paid dividends at the start of his managerial career. It remains to be seen how this saga between Mourinho and Dele will end but do not be surprised if we soon see Dele starring for Tottenham once again.