• Harrison Burridge


Deadline Day over the years has built up a reputation of seeing unexpected deals and Dele Alli’s permanent move from Tottenham to strugglers Everton fits that bill perfectly.

It had seemed the attacking midfielder would stay in North London with Antonio Conte for the rest of the season but a change in management on Merseyside saw Frank Lampard step into Rafael Benitez’s shoes and make some late additions to bolster Everton’s hopes of surviving.

One of those was the Englishman whose career has rather plateaued in recent seasons and minutes have been hard to come by under Jose Mourinho, Nuno Espirito Santo and now Conte.

At 25 his career is at a pivotal stage, but this Everton move could be just what he needs to breathe life back into it.

Where did it all go wrong at Tottenham?

Alli burst onto the scene with a loan spell at League One side MK Dons in 2014/15 netting sixteen goals and grabbing eleven assists across all competitions. This saw Mauricio Pochettino call him into the first team setup and become an instrumental part of their second placed finish in 2015/16. A further 10 goals were added to his career tally that season as Leicester City famously won the title.

2016/17 represented a major step up and one that saw him dubbed as a wonderkid by many ex-players and pundits. 22 goals came in all competitions with 18 in the league as Spurs once again were the bridesmaids of the league.

His output started to drop over the next few seasons, but he still remained integral to Tottenham as they went on that memorable run to the Champions League final in 2018/19. However, that match seemed to be a turning point for the fortunes of Tottenham and consequently Alli himself.

At the start of the next season, performances began to drop, and it ultimately ended in Pochettino being sacked in November 2019. This led to Mourinho getting the job and slowly but steadily Alli fell out of favour with the Portuguese manager. Then the same happened after a bright start under Nuno before continuing under Conte and resulting in his move to Everton.

Many reasons have been floated as to why the player who in October 2021 ranked sixth on the list of most goal involvements in the Premier League before turning 22 has seen such a drop off in his career.

A lack of self-confidence is a factor due to the contrast in faith shown by managers in him after Pochettino’s exit and how he made Alli feel like he could float on air but at the same time Alli has progressively played further away from the final third, something that doesn’t suit his aggressive nature. The number of shots he is taking and touches in the opposition box have also dropped along with the number of chances he is creating.

In all categories, Alli was below the level he set in his early years at Tottenham but also below the level you would expect of a Premier League footballer, but all is not lost for him.

How can Frank Lampard and Everton revitalise his career?

Lampard’s time at Chelsea was one very much of two halves. In 2019/20 there were little to no expectations as he had to juggle the effect of losing the club’s best player in Eden Hazard and a transfer ban. He exceeded what most thought he would achieve by finishing fourth and reaching the FA Cup final but then after reaching top spot in December 2020 things quickly unravelled and he left the job at the end of January with Chelsea in ninth.

However, the key takeaway from his time at the club was his desire to play on the front foot attacking football and this is something that works massively in the favour of Alli.

In 2019/20 Lampard’s Chelsea averaged 1.82 goals per game. A number only exceeded by high flyers Liverpool and Manchester City. In 2020/21, at the time of his sacking, the average was slightly smaller at 1.74 per game.

Whilst defensively Chelsea were less watertight than most would have wanted the attacking numbers back up Lampard’s claims on the philosophy of football he wants to implement at Everton.

Shifting away from Lampard’s style and focusing on Lampard the player, it is clear to see why these two are a good match for each other. After all who better to learn from than Chelsea’s record goal scorer and someone who made a living out of arriving into the box late to score goals.

Add in the quality of players that would be around Alli in the Everton team and he could well be given the freedom to roam in the number 10 spot and influence games how he knows best and how we all became accustomed to five years ago.

A tricky period awaits the Merseyside club as they try to avoid their first relegation from the top flight of English football since returning in 1953/54 but with new signing Alli and a manager who has put faith in him this tough period could turn into a very exciting one.