Jose Mourinho was forced into an awkward admission over Dele Alli’s future at Tottenham after being pressed on the matter during a press conference.
Alli has been frozen out by Mourinho this season, making only 12 appearances in all competitions. He has not started a Premier League game since the opening game of the campaign. On that day, he was replaced at half-time against Everton.
The 24-year-old has become increasingly frustrated at his plight. Indeed, he has been linked with a January reunion with Mauricio Pochettino at PSG. Tottenham, however, appear reluctant to allow him to leave.
Speculation has suggested Mourinho could let Alli leave were he to land a replacement.
However, when one hack put the question to him, Mourinho refused to answer questions. In fact, very unusually, the Portuguese firebrand retreated somewhat into his shell.
“It’s not a question that I am comfortable to answer,” he said. “Of course I would know how to answer you.
“But I am not ready to answer, I am not ready to make public my vision of the situation. I am sorry about that but I’m not going to answer.”
When questioned again, Mourinho hit back with a firmer response.
“You are asking that question in a general way,” he said. “But you are, of course, speaking about Dele. So the question that you are asking me is would I let Dele go without getting a player in exchange. I’m not going to answer that question.”
Alli posted a picture on Instagram on Wednesday night, looking frustrated after the 1-1 draw with Fulham. The midfielder was once again an unusued substitute in a game in which Spurs desperately needed some creativity in the last 15 minutes.
Mourinho has conceded that Alli is unhappy. But he insists that it is normal in a squad for players to be discontented when not playing.
“I think in every dressing room are unhappy players. For sure,” he said. “If any one of us, of my tribe, tells you that in his dressing room are only happy players, I don’t think it’s true.
“Or somebody is so, so lucky to have a miracle in his hands. I believe that in every dressing-room, there are unhappy players.
“Then you can have [an] unhappy professional. And the unhappy professional is the one that is unhappy but feels that his duty is to work, work, work and work.
“And there is the unhappy that believes that it’s not his job to fight and to work every minute for the squad and for the club.
“But unhappy players you have everywhere and in every club, I promise you that.”
Mourinho admits he ‘loves’ Gareth Bale
Alli’s situation is not the only man-management job on his hands as he tries to get the best out of Gareth Bale.
The 31-year-old has endured an underwhelming return to north London after the fanfare of his homecoming and has played just 45 minutes of Premier League action since November 8.
He has struggled with injury and illness in the last couple of months and Mourinho says there is a bigger story behind Bale’s struggle to recapture his best form.
But the Portuguese insists that the Welshman is not happy to just sit on the bench and his appetite to play remains the same, revealing he asked to travel to Marine in the FA Cup after only one training session last week.
“Gareth Bale is a player that I always loved,” he said. “In fact he went to Real Madrid one season later because I spoke with the president when I was there.
“He’s a guy I like very much. As a person he’s a really, really nice guy, a dressing room guy. The reasons he didn’t reach in this period the level that Tottenham supporters remember him is a complex answer and I’m not prepared to…
“If Gareth was here we could speak a little bit about it but just by myself I’m not comfortable.
“I think he’s a happy guy. I see him every day really happy. His interaction in the group live is amazing.
“He’s really a nice and happy guy in the group. If he’s happy when he sits on the bench I don’t think so. I honestly don’t think so.
“If he has (an) appetite to play football, I do think so because when a player does want to play in Marine after only one training session, after three weeks of injury wants to go and play in Marine, I believe that can only show a person loves to play football.”