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Can Alli fit into Jose's plans for Tottenham? Midfielder at a crossroads after being frozen out by Spurs boss

Jason Burt


Dele Alli: Doesn’t feel wanted. Photo: Bradley Collyer/PA Wire

Dele Alli: Doesn’t feel wanted. Photo: Bradley Collyer/PA Wire

Dele Alli: Doesn’t feel wanted. Photo: Bradley Collyer/PA Wire

It has been an uncomfortably strange fortnight for Dele Alli and one that is perhaps best summed up by Jose Mourinho suggesting he should look to Tanguy Ndombele as an example of the way to apparently win back the coach's favour.

Given Mourinho's previous withering criticism of Tottenham's record signing, then following Ndombele would not appear to be a sound move, especially as it remains to be seen whether he actually means it. But it was what Alli was effectively told after the Europa League victory over Macedonian side Shkendija, a tie in which both players started.

Except, for the second time this season in the two games he has started, Alli did not complete anywhere near the 90 minutes. On the opening day of the campaign, he was substituted at half-time in the defeat at home by Everton, and then against Shkendija he lasted 60 minutes before being replaced by Harry Kane. Tellingly, that move followed Spurs having conceded an equalising goal before going on to win. For Spurs' other two games, Alli was not in the match-day squad.

"Players with me, they feel all of the time that I don't give positions for free. The players have to fight; they have to perform," Mourinho said when asked to address Ndombele's seeming improvement although it equally applied to his attitude to every player he coaches.

And what of Alli? Should he learn from Ndombele? "That's what I want," Mourinho said. "I don't want players to moan, I don't want players to feel frustrated, I don't want players to feel that I have something against them when I don't pick them up.

"I want players to fight for the minutes that they want to be on the pitch and when you play for Tottenham, you have to understand that Tottenham wants to be better and the rewards are going to be better and the players cannot have a comfortable position on the pitch.

The inference was clear: Alli has been indulged too long; has felt "comfortable" for too long; was picked on reputation for too long and needs to improve. There is no doubt the 24-year-old has had a disappointing past two seasons - even if he was instrumental in Spurs' extraordinary comeback in the Champions League semi-final against Ajax - and now appears to be in an invidious position.

Whatever he states publicly it seems that Mourinho does not want Alli anymore and wants to move him on as part of a drive to reduce the bloated squad numbers at Spurs so he can push chairman Daniel Levy to bring in a centre-half and striker.

At the same time, it appears that Alli has accepted things have gone stale for him at Spurs and that maybe, with Mourinho in charge, it may benefit his career to go elsewhere - at least temporarily.

PSG were interested last weekend and believed there had been sufficient encouragement for them to enter into talks. Inter Milan are also a possibility. Except things changed for PSG who, within the space of 48 hours, went from being confident of securing a season-long loan for Alli to believing the deal was too difficult or too expensive, with the inference being that Levy may have been asking too much.

What appears to be the case is that Levy will drive as hard a bargain for Alli to go out on loan - there is little prospect in the current market of Spurs getting the permanent transfer fee they would want - which may mean he has little option but to stay. Like Ndombele, Levy does not want to lose Alli cheaply. If, as is likely, he does stay, it will be fascinating to see how both Mourinho and Alli react, given that there appears to be a difference of opinion between them over the style of football that should be played and where he may fit in. Or whether he will bend to Jose's will.

Mourinho's calling out of Alli in the Amazon Prime 'All or Nothing' series makes for more difficult viewing given his treatment of the player. It can hardly be said that being told he is a "f*****g lazy guy in training" - even if Mourinho also offered the carrot of saying Alli was the player that Alex Ferguson recommended that he sign when he was Man United manager - looks great when the midfielder is being singled out.

Rightly or wrongly Alli does not feel wanted, while history has also shown that once Mourinho reaches this point with a player it is difficult to find a happy return.

"We need to find motivation for the guy," Mourinho said of Alli. The question as always is whether this is the right kind of motivation. (© Daily Telegraph, London)