Dele Alli’s mentor Karl Robinson has lifted the lid on Liverpool’s failed bid sign the young midfielder, after he revealed the Anfield club refused to offer a contract to match an offer on the table from Tottenham.
obinson was Alli’s manager in the formative stages of his career at MK Dons, before he played a prominent role in setting up a transfer that saw him move to Tottenham in the 2015 January transfer window.
At the tender age of 20, Alli is now a senior England international and one of the rising stars of the game, with his two goals in Tottenham’s win against Premier League leaders Chelsea on Wednesday cementing his reputation as one of the finest young players in Europe.
Yet Robinson has told Independent.ie that his career could have taken a different turn as he was close to sealing a move to Liverpool two years ago.
Alli was a Liverpool fan as a kid and Reds legend Steven Gerrard was his hero growing up, so Liverpool-born Robinson was keen to promote his move to Anfield after he held a series of talks with Reds boss Brendan Rodgers.
Liverpool’s owners are believed to have stalled on Alli’s move to Anfield, as they viewed the teenager as a prospect who needed time to develop in the club’s junior side and concluded he would not be ready for immediate first team action.
That meant they would not sanction a wage packet beyond £4,000-a-week, which allowed Spurs to step in with a slightly better offer that persuaded Alli to give up on his dream of playing for Liverpool.
“Two or three top Premier League sides were in for Dele and I thought he might go to Liverpool at one stage,” Robinson told Independent.ie.
“We were speaking to Liverpool first about Dele and I thought they were keen to take him. I told Brendan how good he was going to be, but the deal was never done at the Liverpool end and he went off to Tottenham.
“I’m not surprised by how well he’s done. Maybe the speed of his progress is a little more than we would have expected, but the talent has always been there.
“I always knew that Dele was a great player and, more importantly, a great person. So I’m delighted to see what he has achieved so far.”
With Alli emerging as the best young player in English football over the last 18 months, Tottenham’s £5m investment in a player who is now being linked with a £50m move to Real Madrid appears to be one of the best deals the club has signed off on in recent years.
Liverpool’s loss is most certainly Tottenham’s gain.
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