Tottenham attacker Dele Alli looks to be heading for the exit door after falling out of favour under Jose Mourinho.
Dele was left out of the squad for Sunday’s win at Southampton; a decision that appeared to shock the Tottenham squad.
The midfielder has since emerged as a possible target for PSG and talks over a move are said to be underway.
Mourinho wasn’t in the mood for discussing Dele’s possible exit, but did offer an explanation for leaving him out.
“I’m not responsible for the market. I don’t know how to answer your question in relation to that,” he said.
“The only thing I can say is that I left eight players behind. They stayed and trained this morning because they are a big group and Dele is amongst these players.
“I want a balanced squad, that’s what I want.
“Too many players, so I start with Son [Heung-min], Lucas [Moura], with Harry [Kane] and on the bench I still have Moussa Sissoko and [Erik] Lamela and [Steven] Bergwijn.
“We have too many players for some positions and some of them are paying the price of this.”
With his time now seemingly up, we take a look at where it has gone wrong for Alli….
Fall from grace
After 18 months in the doldrums, it looked like Mourinho’s arrival at Spurs last November might be the catalyst for Alli to regain his very best form. After the Portuguese made a point of targeting Alli positively in the media, it paid dividends as he scored four goals in the first four games.
But that form waned; he played out of position as Spurs were without a striker before Covid-19 hit and then suffered a hamstring injury in the first few weeks back after lockdown which curtailed the back end of the season.
Dressing room tantrums
The Amazon documentary All or Nothing gave us great insight into what Alli is like in the dressing room. He is a joker and likes to have fun during the week, but on matchday he is a winner and does not take losing very well.
In one of the episodes he is seen throwing his shin pads around and arguing with Eric Dier after a defeat. He is also shown questioning the tactics after another loss.
There have been suggestions that he did not take his half-time substitution against Everton well. That, however, has been disputed by Mourinho and Dier when they were asked about it.
The victim of imbalance
Mourinho’s explanation of why Alli has not been involved over the last two games is that his squad is imbalanced. As such, some players are playing the price for that. He says that because he has to have a balanced bench it means that some more attacking players have to miss out. It is strange, though, that Alli is the only one of those attacking players who were left out of both squads.
Not working hard enough?
Another one of the themes shown in the All or Nothing documentary was Mourinho complaining that Alli was “lazy” in training and telling his chairman Daniel Levy about it. That was when he first arrived at the club, though, and it was not made clear whether the England international improved his work-rate.
However, the fact that former boss Mauricio Pochettino used to complain about it regularly suggests it is a long-standing issue.
Mourinho is known to love players who give it their all. The fact that Erik Lamela is getting game time ahead of him says a lot. The Argentine is arguably less talented, but certainly works harder.
Party boy lifestyle
In their first meeting following Mourinho’s arrival, the boss asked whether Alli was a party boy and this is another underlying issue that Pochettino often highlighted. There can be no denying that Alli enjoys the celebrity lifestyle. As such, he’s featured just as heavily in the showbiz columns as the sport pages.
Everyone is entitled to a holiday. But Alli was regularly snapped by paparazzi in Ibiza this summer. He’s been seen partying with James Maddison and Jack Grealish.
It is interesting that the very top players, such as Harry Kane, are very rarely photographed in such circumstances.