Complete Analysis of Dele Alli's Tottenham Hotspur Role

Sam Rooke@@SamRooke89Featured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2016

Tottenham's Dele Alli during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Tottenham at Goodison Park Stadium, Liverpool, England, Sunday Jan. 3,  2016. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super/Associated Press

Dele Alli began the 2014-15 season as an unknown for all but the keenest observers of English football. 

A star showing in MK Dons' 4-0 League Cup win over Manchester United brought him into the mainstream, but his signing by Tottenham six months later was met with little fanfare. 

Before Spurs completed the deal, Newcastle were heavily linked with a deal for Alli. According to the Guardian, renowned scout Graham Carr had been keeping a close eye on the player and a £9 million figure was mooted. 

Weeks after signing with Tottenham, Alli was being compared with John Bostock by the Daily Mail. The former Crystal Palace wonder kid flopped after making the move across the capital, enduring five loan spells before finding his level in the Belgian Pro League. 

In Alli's first appearance in a Spurs shirt, a friendly against Real Madrid, he showed more promise than Bostock managed in his six years at the club. 

Six months into his maiden Premier League season, any doubt has been erased. The 19-year-old is a star and is widely expected to start for England at this summer's UEFA European Championships. 

Alli's performances as a substitute in the early weeks of this season demanded a starting role. 

Since breaking into the first team, Alli has been used in two different roles. 

Primarily, he has been deployed as one of the three attacking midfielders behind the main striker, but manager Mauricio Pochettino has occasionally stationed him as one of the deeper central two. 

That deeper role is less suited to Alli's skill set and his instincts as he is keen to get forward as often as possible.  

When playing alongside Eric Dier in the middle, the teenager's discipline has been tested and he has been less effective. 

In that role, his energy is his key asset. His ceaseless running enables him to create overloads in attacking phases while swiftly returning to his position if possession is lost. 

He is able to contribute both defensively and offensively, but with his relative inexperience, Alli is better suited to playing further forward, where he has been a regular scorer of goals and a constant attacking threat. 

When playing wide on the left, Alli helps create space for Danny Rose as his restless movement drags opposition full-backs inside. 

He can also play centrally where his quick feet make him an excellent option for playing one-twos around the box.

His goals against Leicester City and Everton best exemplify his contribution from the more advanced position. 

Slipping between the central defenders, Alli created an additional target in the opposition box. The movement was exploited by inch-perfect passes from Toby Alderweireld. 

He provides additional presence in attacking phases in much the same way as Nacer Chadli at his best last season. 

Unlike Chadli though, Alli's attacking contribution is not limited to scoring goals. He has made three assists and created 23 scoring chances, according to

Every player in a Pochettino team must also contribute without the ball. 

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 03:  Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park on January 3, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Pho
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

His teams attack when the opposition has possession; they sow confusion and create chances with that aggression.

Alli is no exception to this rule and his breathless running provided one of the key moments against Watford. Craig Cathcart was caught in possession and Erik Lamela was able to take full advantage, scoring the opening goal.

Alli has been compared with a young Steven Gerrard. There is some validity to that but, at least for now, the youngster lacks the passing skills that were a key part of the former Liverpool star's arsenal.

He moves the ball quickly but is far less likely to produce the great sweeping passes that Gerrard willingly employed.

According to the Evening Standard, Spurs are set to double Alli's wages after just 18 Premier League appearances. 

His versatility, endurance and youthful flair have made him an immediate selection for Pochettino. 

WATFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur and Almen Abdi of Watford compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Watford and Tottenham Hotspur at Vicarage Road on December 28, 2015 in Watford, England.  (Photo
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Capable of playing deep and excellent in the attacking line, Alli provides quality in multiple roles and is remarkably accomplished at just 19 years old.


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