It’s still very much the curious case of Dele Alli at Tottenham Hotspur this season.
Despite all of Spurs’ recent struggles, Jose Mourinho has still rarely turned to the out-of-favour midfielder and now his future in north London is surely hanging by a thread.
An exit in January was blocked late on by Daniel Levy but with the 25-year-old only featuring for a grand total of 984 minutes in all competitions, the chairman could look to cash in on the £26m-rated dynamo this time round.
If he does indeed go through with sanctioning his departure, it could well be a decision he regrets in the long run.
Mourinho has a sorry history when it comes to giving young talent a chance, and whilst it feels like Alli has been around forever, the 37-time England international is far from reaching his peak years.
Alli, aside from Harry Kane and Heung-min Son, has been one of Spurs’ best players in recent years.
It was only in the 2016/17 season that he bagged a whopping 18 goals from midfield, whilst he has also clinched back-to-back PFA Young Player of the Year awards – the first player to achieve that feat since Wayne Rooney in 2005, and the third-ever to do so.
That year, Spurs legend Darren Anderton waxed lyrical about Alli, comparing him to both Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes, going onto call him a “freak of a talent” and a “real joy to watch” (quotes sourced via Goal).
You simply cannot afford to leave out a player as talented as Alli all season, and ultimately it’s cost Spurs dearly.
Mourinho has a poor history in this regard too, writing off the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Mohamed Salah at Chelsea, going on to sell them to Wolfsburg and Fiorentina, respectively.
No one needs reminding of how their careers have panned out since then, but as a Premier League and Champions League winner, Salah is perhaps the Portuguese’s worst mistake.
The Egyptian’s rise has been astronomical but the signs of that potential were staring Mourinho right in the face, as former Blues teammate Felipe Luis told the Guardian, Salah was like Lionel Messi in training.
“I suffered Salah in training,” claimed the Brazilian defender. “When he went Fiorentina, I said: ‘Why are you going, Momo? This is Chelsea.’ And he said: ‘I need to play.’ I thought: ‘This kid’s good.’ He never went for money or to win more; he went to show he could play. In training, he was like Messi. Really, like Messi. Ask anyone.”
Now Alli may not go onto repeat the impressive exploits of Salah, but there’s every chance he could given it is Paris Saint-Germain are interested in his services and they made the UCL final last year, and are consistently winning Ligue 1.
The difference between the Englishman at Spurs now, and both Salah and De Bruyne at Chelsea then, is that he’s already delivered and proven his worth over several seasons. And that will make this error even more glaring, in a shorter time frame, too.
Mourino cannot afford to repeat this blunder this summer.