The Tottenham Hotspur hierarchy will have a major decision to make this summer.
No, that’s not whether Jose Mourinho should be sacked, nor is it over keeping hold of Gareth Bale but what to do with forgotten superstar Dele Alli.
As Football FanCast outlined earlier this week, the 24-year-old’s transfer value has plummeted at an alarming rate since the turn of 2019.
He has played just 964 minutes this term, and only half of his 22 appearances have been starts, largely in the Europa League against lower quality opposition too.
Now, chairman Daniel Levy blocked his departure to Mauricio Pochettino’s Paris Saint-Germain in January but will have to consider any approach in the summer, otherwise, he risks losing out financially – quite substantially too, if the above is anything to go by.
Football Insider believe Spurs will let him go this summer and PSG returning with interest is a possibility.
That would subsequently leave Mourinho needing another attacking midfielder this summer.
However, there are far bigger needs amongst the current squad – he could finally find that ‘transformative‘ centre-back signing he’s been longing for all season, and will need to resolve the Matt Doherty issue at right-back.
These defensive problems must be his top priority, so perhaps the Spurs boss could look from within to replace Alli, and there’s a clear candidate out there.
The 19-year-old has been involved in first-team training frequently and even earned a call-up to their Europa League squad for the second-leg knockout stage encounter with Wolfsberger AC.
He did not feature that night, but Mourinho hinted that he’ll play him soon, he said (via football.london): “Was not possible for Dilan [Markanday] today but one day it will come and for many more.”
Markanday described as a ‘clever attacking midfielder’ by the official club website and can play a multitude of positions, including on the right flank and at full-back. As per Transfermarkt, his 16 appearances for the U23 squad have come in four different roles this season alone.
That’s no mean feat either, to be some four years below the cut-off age and be playing for the cream of Spurs’ academy crop.
The teenage maestro signed a new contract earlier this year, keeping him at the club until 2022, so his time will certainly come in due course, and if Spurs are needing a creative and ‘clever’ replacement for Alli, they should look no further.
He’d save Daniel Levy from spending millions in the transfer market, that’s for sure.
Spurs reporter Alasdair Gold believes Markanday has a similar style to that of Marcus Edwards.
Speaking during the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium test event, he said: “Markanday has looked bright today. Have always felt he has a very similar running and dribbling style to Marcus Edwards,” adding to his previous remarks when Spurs’ U19s faced Inter Milan in 2018.
“Inter are struggling to deal with Dilan Markanday. His dribbling and passing ability is pulling their defence and midfield all over the place.”
Getting Markanday more regularly involved in the senior set-up before then should be a priority, and that will only help build the case towards him being groomed into a natural – and perfect – Alli replacement, should his departure come.