Tottenham look set to reap the rewards of the hard work Dele Alli put in over the summer throughout the 2021/22 campaign.
Only making 15 appearances in the Premier League last season after finding himself out of favour under Jose Mourinho, the 25-year-old knew something had to change.
Not involved for England at Euro 2020 with his lack of football seeing others move ahead of him in the pecking order, Alli instead headed for Dubai and Portugal with former Spurs teammate Kyle Walker-Peters.
A chance to have a breather following such a long and taxing season, the pair used their time off to get down to business and prepare for the upcoming campaign with some warm weather training.
Giving fans a glimpse of the intense work he was putting in with regular updates on Instagram, Alli was clearly intent on hitting the ground running in pre-season in his quest to become a Tottenham regular once again.
The ex-MK Dons man now looks a certain starter against Man City on the opening weekend of the Premier League season going on his form and Nuno Espirito Santo’s pre-season selections so far.
Giovani Lo Celso’s time at the Copa America has most definitely played into his hands ahead of the new season, with Tanguy Ndombele’s absence in all five pre-season games helping him out as he is a direct competitor for one of the midfield spots.
Lining up in a 4-3-3 formation in their summer friendlies, Alli has been utilised as one of the three central midfielders in the head coach’s setup but he has still been given licence to push on and attack when they are in possession.
Steven Bergwijn, Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min have been Espirito Santo’s front three over the course of the summer in Harry Kane’s absence, with Alli right there alongside them when they are attacking.
Alli did manage to add goals to his game in the wins over MK Dons and Colchester United but he didn’t always look comfortable in his new box-to-box midfield role as he tried to get to grips with it.
However, things finally clicked against Arsenal in what was his best performance of the summer by a long way.
It may have been a friendly against the Gunners as part of The Mind Series, but try telling that to Alli and his teammates.
The attacking midfielder really put himself about in the middle of the park, notably seeing Mikel Arteta jump from his position in the technical area and almost enter the pitch after a late tackle on Nicolas Pepe.
Linking up well with Spurs’ attacking trio in the previous friendlies, Alli really should have opened the scoring prior to half-time after striking the post from close range after some excellent play from Lucas and Son, before again hitting the woodwork in the second half after meeting Davinson Sanchez’s header.
Alli didn’t get the goal his performance deserved but he did more than make his case to Espirito Santo ahead of the first game of the season against Man City with such a strong display.
Always looking to make things happen in the final third, he is linking up incredibly well with his fellow attackers at present and that only bodes well for him and the team in such an important year for the player.
Espirito Santo was asked about his attack in his post-match press conference following the 1-0 win and he stated that they can do “good things” once everything comes together for them.
“We have things to improve, a lot of things to improve. Good movement and mobility but we have to improve the final touch, passing with advantage,” he said.
“When everything comes together I think we can do pretty good things.”
Certainly benefitting from Lo Celso’s Copa America success and Ndombele’s continued absence from the pre-season games, Alli now looks at home in his new midfield role and he could make it his own if his form carries on over the coming weeks.
Targeting a big summer after what happened beforehand, the attacking midfielder has achieved his first goal with the hard work he put in during his time in Dubai and Portugal certainly paying off.
While all eyes will be on Son, Kane and potentially Lautaro Martinez if he comes in through the door, Alli could be the one who goes under the radar and flourishes as part of Espirito Santo’s Tottenham setup.
He still has a major role to play in north London and the 2021/22 season could be the one when the real Dele Alli returns for good.
Source by Football London