Dele Alli has proven why Jose Mourinho can finally trust the Tottenham Hotspur outcast after producing a creative display in victory over Ludogorets on Thursday night.
Mourinho returned Alli to the starting line-up for the visit of Spurs’ Bulgarian opposition, having opted to omit the 24-year-old from his last five Premier League matchday squads and benching the midfielder at Ludogorets earlier this month.
Former Tottenham defender Danny Mills believes Alli should be “raging” over his recent treatment, which has sparked rumours Everton could look to forge a swoop on north London seeking a loan deal in the upcoming January window.
Mourinho’s reluctance to field Alli was capitalised last weekend when the Portuguese tactician only saw fit to name the £46.8m-rated star as the 19th-man against Manchester City, and left him to watch the win from the stands.
But Alli grabbed his chance to impress the former Chelsea boss against Ludogorets ahead of Tottenham’s trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday, with the MK Dons product display the touch of magic Spurs icon Gary Mabbutt recently told Football FanCast he believes the midfielder is capable of.
“Having watched Dele Alli grow as a player from when he first arrived at the club to where he is now, in a game you don’t deserve to win, he can create a bit of magic, he creates that opportunity for you, or scores a goal for you. He has an incredible potential to be a top player,” Mabbutt said.
Tottenham’s night got off to the perfect start when summer signing Carlos Vinicius opened the scoring in the 16th-minute at home to Ludogorets, before doubling Spurs’ advantage with his second goal of the Group Stage thanks to Alli’s first assist of the season.
Just 243 minutes of first-team football across all competitions this season had restricted Alli’s opportunities to impress Mourinho prior to Thursday night’s Europa League tie, which saw the 37-cap England international register three key balls and complete 51 of 64 total passes, including two of three long balls, per SofaScore.
He further won each of his two aerial duels, two of his five ground duels, struck three shots on goal, completed one of two attempted dribbles and delivered an accurate delivery with his sole cross of the game.
Alli may have lost possession 17 times but proved to Mourinho why he can be relied on to offer a creative spark in behind the sole striker, even if he lacks defensively with just one interception to his name against Ludogorets.