We’ve been examining five of Europe’s best attacking-midfield talents and Dele Alli is next in the series. Alli is an established top-class player who plays for Tottenham. Even at the age of 22, he has enough experience to be regarded as one of the most crucial players in the squad. Find out why he’s considered one of the best young players in his position and read our methodology here.
STYLE OF PLAY
Alli is your trademark all-purpose midfielder who has shown great composure, delivering against big teams in a competent league.
The Englishman likes to go forward and has a good eye for goal. He can also function as a second striker and forces defenders to put their thinking caps on, with his intelligent positioning and timed runs into the final third.
ATTRIBUTE RANKS (How the player ranks against the other players analysed)
Key passes: 4
Expected goals+assists: 2
Successful dribbles: 5
Chances created: 3
From the radar above, it can be observed that Alli has an appreciable x(G+A) (expected goals+assists) and this is evidence to the fact that he gets himself into scoring positions easily.
This has not been Alli’s best season, but on his day, he is a clean hitter of the ball and good in the air too.
The 22-year-old is a supremely crisp volleyed of the ball while his first touch and close control is yet another arrow in his quiver.
Alli’s intelligent decision making only amplifies his other strengths and his composure and winning mentality places him among the elites.
Although Cristian Eriksen enjoys the creative burden in the Tottenham team, Alli creates quality chances and can do a great job as a primary creator himself.
Clearly, dribbling is not Alli’s forte. But it’s worth noting that Alli has been below his usual standards this season and the fact that Spurs are a more balanced lot than the likes of Roma, Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund and Lyon and play in a league with significantly stronger teams.
But that does not imply that Alli is flawless. His build-up involvement is low and defensive contribution is questionable.
Also, he gives the ball away easily at times and can be shabby with his passing.
NOTABLE PERFORMANCE THIS SEASON
Tottenham 3-1 Chelsea. The London Derby needed Alli to step up and step up he did.
The England international proved a menace for Jorginho to deal with and etched his name on the fixture with a goal and an assist.
Alli headed home Eriksen’s free-kick and set off the counter which led to Heung-Min Son’s spectacular solo goal.
He also completed two of the three dribbles he attempted and created quite a few scoring opportunities.
There is a reason that the Englishman’s market value is significantly higher than the other elite midfielders in this category.
Alli is more experienced, played in a tougher and physically demanding league and also starred in a World Cup for the Three Lions.
The €100m price tag might seem like an exaggeration of his abilities, but the market is inflated and hence the price seems fair in the modern world.
Real Madrid, Manchester United
The attacking midfield department is blessed with quite a few promising youngsters, who have the potential to expand their horizons in the future.
With clubs preferring to buy talents at the age of 18-20, scouting the right player for the right profile might be cumbersome.
Here, we analyse some of the top talents under the age of 23, who are deployed in attacking midfield and determine their strengths, weaknesses and worth.
The stats are for the 2018/19 season and updated until 18th January. For uniformity, the stats per 90 minutes was normalised by dividing it by the average value of all players of that particular attribute.
Hence, a radar graphic was arrived for every player. This radar gives information on the player’s strengths and weaknesses and also compares the player with other players across all the attributes.
The attribute rank ranks that particular player among the five players considered.
The market value of the player was taken from transfermarkt.
Sancho emerged as the best dribbler among the chosen players and he is ahead by some margin. French genius Aouar too shows promise in this department, excelling with his unique style of taking on opponents.
HIGHEST BUILD-UP INVOLVEMENT
Again, it’s the English wonder-kid Sancho, who comes out on top, with Under not so far behind.
MAXIMUM EXPECTED GOALS+ASSISTS
At this point, Sancho must be overlooked, given his all-round ability. Alli and Under keeping popping up in promising areas and garner a good stat of expected goals+assists.
MAXIMUM KEY PASSES
Sancho’s vision is way superior to that of the other players and the stats regarding key passes per 90 minutes show just that. Again, Under comes close, mainly due to his superb delivery of crosses from wide areas.
HIGHEST SHOT VOLUME
Under and Aouar get into advanced position and hence record voluminous shots every game.
MAXIMUM CHANCES CREATED
This has a lot to do with the style of play of the teams and the other players on the field who are tasked with creating chances. For instance, the presence of Cristian Eriksen does not allow Alli to expand his creative abilities.
Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that Sancho and Under lead the charts yet again.
Nottingham Forest icon Martin O’Neill is honoured to be returning to the City Ground as manager and wants to end the club’s long exile from the Premier League.
The 66-year-old enjoyed much success during a decade as a player with the Reds, including winning the old First Division title and two European Cups.
He has agreed an 18-month contract and during that time O’Neill aims get the club back in the top flight, where they have not competed for 20 years.
“It has probably not sunk in yet as things have happened very quickly, but it goes without saying that it’s a privilege and an honour to be manager of this club,” said O’Neill.
“I had 10 years here as a player, and the last five were pretty exceptional.
“It’s a long time since the club has been in the big league and I am going to see if I can rectify that. It’s the only reason to be here. The club has slipped a bit in recent times but hopefully we can rectify that.
“I have to get to know the players in ultra quick time, but that’s OK. This is it, this is what I’m here to do.”
O’Neill takes over a team ninth in the Championship table, four points behind local rivals Derby, who occupy the final play-off spot.
Asked if promotion was possible this season, he said: “I’m not going to rule anything out. Essentially the target is to get promotion. I have to try to do that.
“In terms of the club’s potential, history and support it deserves to be in the big league and if I can’t do that then I will hand over to someone else.”
O’Neill hopes to be joined at the City Ground by Roy Keane, the former Forest midfielder who assisted him during his five years as Republic of Ireland boss.
“I would dearly like him to join us. Since this has happened very quickly he has a number of things to sort out himself,” said O’Neill.
“There’s a spot open for him and I hope it happens. It may not, as he has a few things to sort out himself both personally and professionally.
“He was a great asset to me at the Republic of Ireland and we had some really great days. He can be a handful. He was a special player, fantastic footballer who drove Manchester United on for 10 years and you don’t win those things just sitting around.”
O’Neill replaces Aitor Karanka after the Spaniard’s departure last week and he becomes the club’s 11th full-time manager since 2011.
“I wasn’t particularly aware of that,” said O’Neill. “I think in this day and age managers are getting less and less time, you have to get going.”