Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has admitted that Dele Alli struggles to motivate himself unless he is faced with elite opposition, as per the Mirror.
Apparently, “when he believes it is easy, he is not interested” and that might well be a telling insight into why he may struggle for ruthlessness and consistency.
Speaking ahead of the visit of champions-elect Manchester City, Pochettino discussed Alli’s mentality and said that elite opposition brings the best out of the England international, valued at £72m by Transfermarkt.
There is nothing wrong with that per se, but the Argentine’s admission that when it is “easier”, when there is lesser opposition, “he is not interested”, is more of a worry.
To get to the very top, Alli is going to need to develop that ruthless side. If he does that, then he will become an even greater asset to England and Spurs.
Although we all know that footballers aren’t machines, most fans and managers expect players to approach every game – no matter the opposition – with that same level of focus.
It is when elite players take situations and opponents lightly that they can get shown up – we’ve seen that this week with the scares experienced – to varying degrees – to Arsenal, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
From an England point of view as well, they were knocked out of Euro 2016 by Iceland and face Tunisia and Panama in their first two World Cup 2018 games.
If Alli doesn’t give his full attention to those matches – and his Three Lions place is under threat – then he doesn’t deserve to be in the side. And there is only so long Pochettino will tolerate that slackness for.