Everton manager Frank Lampard has hit back at Stan Collymore over his suggestion that Dele Alli should retire if his move to Goodison Park continues to see him failing to return to his former glories.
Dele, 25, moved to Merseyside in January after finally escaping from his Tottenham struggles. He will have been hoping that a move to a new club could regenerate a career that has been badly stalling for some time now. Indeed, he made just 10 Premier League appearances for Tottenham this season prior to the move. And he’s spent most of that time sat on their bench.
That said, his decline started some time before this season. To that end, Dele often came in for strong criticism from former Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho.
And for a player who in the 2016/17 season scored 22 times in 50 games, it’s been a downward spiral ever since.
It was hoped the move to Everton would result in an instant upturn.
Alli was excited to get the chance to play under one of the greatest midfielders of his generation in Lampard.
However, the move is yet to go to plan., with Dele yet to complete 90 minutes for the Toffees. Furthermore, he is yet to have any goal contributions in his six appearances to date.
Such has been his struggles that pundit Collymore made the outlandish claim that Dele may have to retire from the game.
Suggesting the player was ‘no longer cut out for it’ the pundit also claimed Dele ‘didn’t have his heart in it anymore’.
However, those claims have not gone down well with Lampard.
In a cleverly-worded response, Lampard has taken Collymore to task over the claims, flatly refuting his comments.
Strong defence from Toffees manager
Lampard said: “I saw those comments and it is important to broach them because I know Stan a little bit. He had difficulties which he has been open about in his career.
“I understand where he is coming from on his own front. But to speak about someone you do not know, and put them in the same bracket, or question if they should be in that bracket, was a little bit much.
“From my point of view I have the familiarity of working with Dele every day. And I do not see a player who wants to retire at that age. That was a strong comment.”
With Alli yet to start for Everton, the midfielder has looked a little off the pace in the games when he was featured. As such, it’s easy to see why Collymore might suggest the player no longer looks like he cares.
However, in Lampard, Dele at least has a manager there who knows what it is like to be in the firing line. And the Toffees boss knows there is only one way to silence the player’s critics.
Dele Alli future on the line at Everton
Everton midfielder Dele Alli has been told by pundits that his time is running out to make an impact at Everton and keep his place at the club
“What I do see – and I do see people can comment in that way – is he has a lot to prove,” Lampard admitted.
“The basics are that when you have a lot to prove you have to get your head down. You have to listen to that stuff because that’s the job we are in. And you have to prove people wrong on the pitch. That starts on the training pitch. I see it like that.”
Dele Alli given Lampard backing
Lampard is again likely to keep Dele Alli on the bench during their trip to West Ham on Sunday.
But in a big show of faith for the player, Lampard insists he knows Alli can return to his best.
“He is working, and I am seeing him work,” Lampard said. “But I always believed it would take some time. Dele has to train and show he is in that way of thinking.
“Every time he comes on he has to show he is worthy of starting a game. I am not saying he has not done that. Some players say they are better when they start. I said that as a player.
“The reality from my side of the fence is you work on the individual. When the time is right and I feel he is there and will help the team, he will do it. He is the same as every other player when it comes to that.”
Lampard also denies claims there is an escape clause in Dele’s contract were Everton to suffer relegation.
He added: “No, it’s not true there’s no clause. But I think there is always a break clause if you talk about relegation, or not reaching what is considered success.”