2017 22under22 Countdown – #5: Dele Alli

“Dele Alli is a special player. He is better than me when I was 20, that’s for sure.”
– Frank Lampard


Date of Birth: April 11, 1996 (21 years old)
Nationality: English
Position: Attacking Midfielder
Club Appearances: 63 (26 Goals)
International Appearances: 17 (2 Goals)
EIF Ability Rating: 69

*EiF Ability Rating is a representation of a combination of the player’s current ability and potential ability. It is determined by multiple rounds of voting, and then an addition of the scores given by each judge. The maximum score a player can have is 80.*


So far in EiF’s 22under22 Countdown, we have seen a plethora of attacking talent. Coming in at #5 is our highest rated Englishman, Dele Alli. After a great first season with Tottenham, the young playmaker has only improved this year. Alli has made himself irreplaceable in the Spurs side that is challenging for the Premier League title at the moment and is a mainstay in the England squad under Gareth Southgate. Tottenham Hotspur fans will be praying that the club can fend off interest in Dele from the European elites this summer.

Dele Alli was born in Milton Keynes, England where as a young teenager, he played for MK Dons. His first appearance for the senior team came as a 16-year-old. Alli went on to play 62 games for the club before attracting the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool, and Newcastle. Alli chose the Spurs in January of 2015 and has not looked back since. After his £5 million move, Dele has taken the Premier League by storm. Pundits have argued that he is the most important Tottenham player, even above the prolific Harry Kane.


Strengths


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Dele Alli is one of the most dangerous midfielders in England with the ball at his feet (Photo: AS)

Dele Alli is best known for his goal scoring ability. He is an attacking midfielder that acts almost as a secondary center forward. Dele has scored 16 goals in the Premier League this season, which is more than any other midfielder in the league and one more than Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. His ability to score goals comes in many forms. Alli is no stranger to scoring spectacular long-range goals, as seen in his debut goal for England, his goal of the season contender versus Crystal Palace, or more recently, his upper-90 curler against Watford. His ability to strike a ball from range is one of his greatest attributes. Dele is also a player who seemingly always finds himself in the right position. They may look like tap-ins, but his close-range goals highlight his spacial awareness on the pitch. Alli is always surveying the field and finding the pockets of space around the opposition’s penalty area. His ability to score goals in a multitude of ways is a great strength for the young Three Lions star.

In addition to his impressive finishing ability, Dele is a phenomenal dribbler. While he will not beat you with the step overs or the tricky touches like Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United, he will beat you by running at you and using his body and his cutting ability to get by you. Additionally, his close control allows him to work his way out of tight spaces with a succession of quick touches. Playing high up the pitch in Mauricio Pochettino’s system, he often receives the ball with his back to goal, and he has become known for his quick turns that leave defenders helpless. Dele’s ability to beat defenders is not only one of his personal strengths, but also pivotal to the success of his team.


Weaknesses


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Dele Alli has been instrumental to Tottenham’s success over the past two seasons (Photo: Standard)

Over the course of the past two seasons, Alli has gained a bad boy reputation amongst the rest of the league and the referees. Alli has a temperament that makes him decisive and motivated, but it can also be a significant weakness of his game. Many opposing defenders have tried to get under his skin as a way of taking him out of the game. Teams have found this tactic successful. Alli saw himself banned for 3 matches last season for punching West Brom’s Claudio Yacob. The three games were the last games of the last year, which saw Arsenal jump Spurs in the table on the last day. Tottenham could’ve used their star man in those games. More recently, Dele received a red card in Tottenham’s Europa League game against Gent. The horrific challenge resulted in a three-match European ban. That will carry over to next season and further hurt his team. If Alli can get his temper under control, he will be able to be on the pitch for more time and Tottenham will have a better chance of success.


Dele Alli is being heralded as the future of England. That is a lot of weight to carry for a 21-year-old, but Dele has all the skill necessary to fulfill these expectations. He already plays a pivotal role in the title-chasing Tottenham Hotspur and is a regular in the England team. His production rate is already higher than the great Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard at the age of 21. The youngster from Milton Keynes has reportedly attracted the interest of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City as well as Real Madrid. Barcelon legend Xavi recently compared Dele Alli to the great Paul “Gazza” Gascoigne, and if Alli keeps up his goals and assists, he has the potential to surpass the famous England international. Alli is perhaps the most exciting English prospect since Wayne Rooney, and if he continues to develop well he will undoubtedly become a world class midfielder.