London: There is no doubt that Europe’s wealthiest clubs are taking note of Dele Alli. Real Madrid and Paris St-Germain have both scouted the midfielder and, certainly, PSG like the idea of acquiring a young English talent as they continue their drive to become a superpower with global appeal.
PSG understand the profile that having an English player would bring them, as well as the ability Alli possesses and, at 20, he is at a perfect age given they are shaping a younger team. But they also know it will be extremely difficult to get Alli out of Spurs and out of the Premier League and have not reached the point of even considering a bid under their new sporting director, Patrick Kluivert.
Bayern Munich, meanwhile, even noticed Alli when he was at MK Dons in League One — after he starred in an England Under-19 draw with Germany — and will not have forgotten him, either. Spurs, of course, have lost their best to Real before — Luka Modric, Gareth Bale — but there is a genuine determination and confidence this time around to see off any offer if one eventually arrives.
When senior sources insist that Alli is “not for sale at any price” then it is not a sales tactic or bargaining position. It is true that Tottenham’s transfer budget will be limited as resources are pushed into the new 61,000-seat stadium, rapidly taking shape next to White Hart Lane, but the broadcast deals mean that the club will not be as financially hamstrung as Arsenal were when they had to construct the Emirates and can marshal their resources.
What is also becoming increasingly apparent all around Europe, as well as in the Premier League, is that the leading teams do not have to sell. They can resist offers from even bigger, even wealthier clubs. There is less financial pressure on them — as Chelsea found last summer in their frustrating attempts to sign central defenders from Napoli, in Kalidou Koulibaly, and AC Milan, in Alessio Romagnoli.
Spurs have been mocked for the steady stream of new contract announcements over recent months as they have upgraded and extended deals — and with manager Mauricio Pochettino wearing the same suit in each photograph suggesting they were agreed at the same time and then drip fed out (in reality he keeps the one suit at the training ground) — but it is part of chairman Daniel Levy’s sound strategy.
Spurs know they have a young and exciting team and the key is keeping them together rather than spending big in transfers. Rewarding Alli with two improved deals last year — the second of which takes him up to 2022 — is a significant part of that strategy. It also helps that there is a realisation among Alli’s advisers that it was just 20 months ago that he was playing in League One, that his rise has been meteoric and that Spurs — and working under Pochettino — is best for his development.
There is no hurry for a young man who has come a long way very, very quickly and who is a very popular member of the dressing room. He is regarded as something of a joker and has developed a strong bond with the other young players, including a close friendship with Eric Dier.
Those two goals against Chelsea on Wednesday, halting the league leaders’ run of consecutive victories at 13, provided further evidence of Alli’s precocious talent and extraordinary potential — and will raise his profile even further. There is no denying that he is now a vital player for club and country and has not only usurped Everton’s Ross Barkley but also Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney to be England’s No. 10.
— The Telegraph Group Limited, London 2016