Dele Alli’s remarkable ascent invites comparisons with some of the greats of the modern English game. With 30 goals in 90 appearances for Tottenham, he even has a superior record at his age than players like Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney. But he isn’t a similar player to any of those names. In fact, he really defies categorization.
He plays as a No. 10 but he doesn’t really get that many assists. He has five so far this season in the Premier League and it’s not really his game. He is all about popping up in the final third; he’s not a player who is going to be looking to drop deep, or play one-twos on the edge of the box.
If you watch Tottenham, a lot of the time he is further forward than Kane. He can’t be categorized. I don’t know what you would even call him – is there a new position he has created? He isn’t a midfielder and isn’t a centre-forward but scores lots of goals, with seven in his last nine games alone. He is something truly different.
He’s almost a nine-and-a-half, between a No. 10 and a traditional centre-forward. He isn’t like other players who take up positions between the lines: he isn’t a goal creator or an intricate player like Mesut Ozil or David Silva. He wants to gallop onto the ball and score, as we saw with his goal against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final.
He has an arrogance about him and he is genuinely unique. You can’t compare him with anyone in the modern game. We haven’t seen this before.
What allows Alli to play in this new way is the structure Tottenham have built around him. When you have players like Mousa Dembele, Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama giving you a platform, it gives you a certain liberty. They have a lot of enforcers, who can win the ball back and recover, and that frees up Alli.
Mauricio Pochettino is also key to everything, of course. He has trusted in a young player plucked from the third tier and has thrown him into the first team, refusing to farm him out on loan. It has given him the exposure he needed to shine.
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: Dele Alli has reinvented football, and he has to stay at Spurs