When Tottenham signed Dele Alli in the closing hours of the 2014-15 winter transfer window from MK Dons, they knew they’d landed a talented young player. But what the young Englishman has achieved in the short years since must have been beyond their wildest dreams.
Alli was a £5million transfer in February 2015. In June 2018, the CIES Football Observatory put his value at roughly £152million – in other words, roughly 30 times his transfer fee. And it’s quite likely that, having signed him to a new contract on Tuesday, Tottenham wouldn’t part with him even for that astronomical amount.
And the 22-year-old has justified the hype. Back in April, when he marked his 100th Premier League appearance by scoring two goals to help Spurs to their first away win over Chelsea since 1990, an astonishing stat emerged. At that 100-appearance mark, he’d outshone some of England’s leading midfielders of the era – by far.
He had 61 goal contributions at that point – 36 goals, 25 assists. After 100 league appearances, David Beckham’s tally was 43, Paul Scholes’ 34, Steven Gerrard’s 24, and Frank Lampard’s 18. Alli is blowing away some England legends.
And if he’s doing that, what chance do his contemporaries have? Since making his Premier League debut in August 2015 – he was loaned back to MK Dons for the rest of the 2014/15 season after his transfer – he leads all English midfielders in goals and assists.
Tottenham’s transfer business has come under scrutiny of late, but they seem to be going by the adage that tying down a player to a long-term contract can be as good as a new signing. Alli’s looking like one of those players.
Oleksandr Zinchenko believes his Manchester City team-mate Phil Foden is the best young player in Europe.
Foden, City’s highly-rated 18-year-old midfielder, is set for another first-team opportunity as Fulham visit the Etihad Stadium in the Carabo Cup fourth round on Thursday.
The Under-17 World Cup-winner has been turning heads for some time but has had to wait patiently for game time with Pep Guardiola’s Premier League champions.
He has made seven appearances this season but his only starts came in the Community Shield defeat of Chelsea and the third-round victory at Oxford, when Foden also registered his first City goal.
Zinchenko, who will also be hoping to be involved against the Cottagers, said: “I think he is the most talented young player in Europe right now. For him it is so important to stay humble, work hard every day. He’s growing up.”
Zinchenko has also made just two City starts this season, the most recent being the home win over Brighton a month ago.
Guardiola apologised to the Ukrainian last week for not including him in his matchday squad for the Champions League game at Shakhtar Donetsk – one of his youth clubs – as many of his family were in attendance.
The 21-year-old midfielder, who has proved himself a capable back-up left-back, is now focused on the visit of Fulham.
He said: “We have a lot of players who didn’t play last few weeks, and everyone wants to get the chance to show yourself, show your maximum.
“Of course it’s going to be a tough game because Fulham play well. They are defensively organised very well, and always against them it is not so easy.”
City won the League Cup last season – Guardiola’s first trophy in English football – before going on to claim the title with a record points haul.
Zinchenko said: “We are Man City, for us every competition is so important.”
Arsene Wenger says he will be back in management at the start of 2019 – but he does not know where yet.
The 69-year-old, who ended his 22-year reign at Arsenal at the end of last season, is looking forward to returning to the game.
Asked when he would be back in management, the Frenchman told Sky Sports News: “At the beginning of the year.
“It will seem odd to go somewhere else but I can’t tell you (where) because I don’t know where I’ll be. I’ll be somewhere – but I don’t know where.
“I have had a good rest and watched football a lot. I have many good memories, so I miss them.”