Although Spurs’ only January (albeit he came in in February) addition is not likely to pull on the white shirt in north London until next season, the window just gone was, on the whole, a successful one for Mauricio Pochettino.
Dele Alli from MK Dons was, of course, Tottenham’s only addition, and with the teenager coming in from a lower league team with a burgeoning reputation, there are some natural comparisons with John Bostock…
But, we think this deal will be rather more fruitful for Spurs than their ill-fated capture of the once England youth prodigy, and here are FIVE reasons why…
“Harry Winks and I were talking about who I play like and he was trying to tell me I’m like Fernandinho but I’m not having that.
“I’d prefer to think I’m a cross between Gerrard and Yaya Toure.”
These are the words of the young man himself, and if he can be half the player these two midfield monsters combined would be, then he’s destined for a very successful career. To be fair to Alli, he has some justification to such a comparison, with his playing style not dissimilar to the Liverpool and Manchester City stars. The teenager, a central midfielder, is known for his driving energy in the middle, explosive power and willingness to get forward, which are all traits displays by the ex-England skipper and the Ivorian hero.
Without doubt one of the most underwhelming signings in Tottenham’s history is Bostock. At 16, the midfielder was snapped up from Crystal Palace and looked like a player who was destined for the very top. Fans celebrated his potential and coaches raved about him… but to say it didn’t quite work out I an understatement. The now 23-year-old is in the Belgian second tier right now after bouncing around the Football League and MLS on loan. Ouch.
Although there are some parallels – age, divisional status, position – between Bostock and Alli, the latter is in fact a million miles from the Spurs flop. Perhaps the key difference is that while Bostock had only a handful of games to his name when he moved across London, Alli is already a League One regular and has made well over 50 outings ahead of his 19th birthday.
Scoring goals may not be the only skill needed to be a successful central midfielder… but they do help! Despite his age and position, Alli seems to be an adept finisher from both in and outside the box, with many of his 20 goals in fact crafted efforts rather than thunderous drives. Such a tendency to place the ball hints that he has more technique and composure than some young midfielders, which is a firm foundation to build on.
While the Dons and Spurs don’t play an identical system, there are some similarities between their styles of play this season. Both clubs have been, for the most part, operating with a 4-2-3-1, in which Alli has been a part of the two in front of his own backline. Mauricio Pochettino used this set-up with a great deal of success at Southampton and has carried it to White Hart Lane, so it looks as if, as long as he sticks around, the formation will be staying.
Alli’s performances in the position he has frequented this term have been impressive, suggesting that he would be a good fit in ‘Poch’s’ set-up, even if the leap from the third to the top tier is a massive one.
Teams like Liverpool and Bayern Munich do not chase useless players, and their pursuits of Alli in the past hint that he’s the real deal. The Reds’ commitment to unearthing youngsters and the short trip to Milton Keynes don’t prove too much, but the fact that the Bundesliga giants have also been paying close attention to a third tier player in a different country illustrates that he’s worth some fuss.