Dele Alli was compared by Pochettino to Ronaldinho and Maradona… Who could have predicted, when he flew on Spurs, that he would be unwanted at Everton and leave for Besiktas at 26?
The heights he reached during his peak and the names that came to mind when one of his former managers spoke of Dele Alli could hardly feel further away at this point.
The man who was once one of the shining hopes of English football is now actually being unwanted by Everton. They are not exactly overflowing with attacking quality, but they are happy to let Alli leave for Turkey.
Whatever part he played in it, Alli’s fall can still stir an element of sadness, especially for those who remember the good old days.
Everton midfielder Dele Alli has emerged as a shock transfer target for Turkish outfit Besiktas
There were many of them too, most notably under Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham.
“Maradona was a talented, gifted player; so strong, physicality, natural body, that’s strong, fast, powerful, but then his character, it wins, the DNA,” Pochettino once said.
“The charisma is the best he has, when he enters the room everyone looks at him, everyone wants to touch him, wants to ask for a picture.
“Ronaldinho in Paris St Germain was similar. And it is similar to Dele in this way. When he scored goals, kids loved him like he was Ronaldinho.
“Kids feel this charisma, this energy, and the same thing happened to Dele.”
The Toffees star has played a total of 38 minutes in the first two Premier League matches
It was under Pochettino at Tottenham that Alli rose spectacularly after coming from MK Dons for a first £5million with a number of individual honors from his Football League days to his name underlining his potential.
He initially thrived in central midfield and later played against Harry Kane, enjoying the license to get into attacking positions and loot targets.
Two years in a row he was named PFA Young Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017 and England’s inevitable career also unfolded with a full debut wonder goal against France – and Spurs team-mate Hugo Lloris – and a key role in the 2018 World Cup as one of the highlights .
“Dele was a great player for us; the hunger and the energy and the aggression,” Pochettino added during a performance on Sky’s Monday Night Football in 2020.
Mauricio Pochettino made the most of Alli, who has struggled to replicate those heights ever since
That spark, lead and output have disappeared in recent years, a process that began when he returned to central midfield under Pochettino.
Jose Mourinho tried to bring him back to his old position, but a good start soon backfired with the confrontational management style of the now-Roma chief, not the kind to rebuild Alli who has fallen out of favor. Some have wondered if Alli doesn’t like the game at all anymore.
His fortunes under Mourinho continued under Nuno Espirito Santo and by the time Conte arrived last November, the damage at Spurs had long been done.
Frank Lampard, one of English football’s great midfielders, seemed like the ideal candidate for the Everton restoration job, but he too has been unable to discover what the 26-year-old’s motivation is.
While watching his former protege struggle under Mourinho, Pochettino chose to keep his thoughts on what was happening at the time, in part because Alli was no longer his responsibility.
Who could have predicted that Alli would find himself in this dire situation, in what should have been his peak years, playing and shining under Pochettino?
Antonio Conte was also unable to extract Alli’s former self during their time together at Spurs