For a long time, Liverpool’s failure to secure a Dele Alli signature was a source of frustration and regret.
A few years ago, Reed revealed his childhood that he visited Liverpool’s training facilities in 2014, shortly after he appeared on the scene as a teenage kid on MK Dons.
Soon after, at only 18 years of age, he proved himself as a serious talent, and was dazzled when he crushed League One Manchester United led by Louis Van Gaal 4-0 in the League Cup. A few months later, he signed for Tottenham.
“At the time I was at the MK, there was a connection with Liverpool before I signed with Tottenham, but that was before we spoke with Tottenham,” He told Football Focus in 2016 . “I think it was six months ago.
“We went up there and I think they knew that Steven Gerrard was my hero, so they said he would come to meet me, but when I got there he was apparently sleeping.
“I think he played a match the next day even though I understand that.”
The story may have turned out to be fabricated, and there was almost certainly more to it than the legendary Liverpool captain’s nap in the afternoon, but the club’s failure to get an autograph became a pain.
He immediately switched to football when he joined Tottenham in the summer of 2015, and immediately appeared to be an indispensable member of Mauricio Pochettino’s first team.
Alli scored 10 goals and scored nine more assists in his first season in the Premier League, the 2015-16 season. Meanwhile, Liverpool had been toiling in the final months of Brendan Rodgers’ tenure and it was similarly inconsistent that Jurgen Klopp took some time to alter the results.
Liverpool ended up in eighth that season, behind West Ham and Southampton, and ten points behind third-placed Tottenham.
Alli was named PFA’s Young Player of the Year that season as Tottenham appeared to be a true contender for the Leicester City title before eventually falling short. The teenager’s rapid rise seemed just one example of how Tottenham had outperformed Liverpool in terms of employment.
Liverpool improved so much in Klopp’s first full season as he began to plant his ideas as the Reds returned to the top four in 2016-2017, but Alli also continued his ascending path, scoring an impressive 18 Premier League goals with Tottenham – who finished second after Chelsea – led by Antonio Conte – once again enjoyed a 10-point lead over Liverpool coming to the final table.
Then it was established as a mainstay for Gareth Southgate with a fresh look in the England national team, and he appeared a true talent for generations with a reputation not unlike that of Jadon Sancho in Borussia Dortmund today.
Given his production and importance to a Tottenham team who became a key player in the Champions League for the first time in the era of the Premier League, it is impossible to say that Liverpool could not have done so with his services. At one time, but not anymore.
Given how he definitely outperformed Philippe Coutinho and helped him during the two and a half seasons they appeared in the same league, a different manager or a different sporting director may have taken a bold move for Alli as a direct substitute for Coutinho again in January 2018 after their Brazilian star moved to Barcelona for 105 million pounds, which is Liverpool’s record sale.
Later years showed Liverpool were on the right track forgetting to replace Coutinho with another playmaker – they didn’t need a single playmaker because they enjoyed one of the most successful and dominant periods in club history.
By reinvesting Coutinho’s money into more pressing areas – Virgil van Dyck and Alison proved their discoveries in defense and net in respectively – Liverpool, the Champions League winner, the Premier League champions, became 196 points over two seasons.
There was a time when Liverpool fans might have felt upset thinking “What if?” The over-failing to land on Alli, but few, if any, of these ideas have had these over the past couple of years, especially as his singular form has moved in the opposite direction altogether.
During the last two of the English Premier League, the Tottenham man scored 13 goals and seven assists – less than half in both cases than what he achieved in his first two years at the club.
A few matches showed their diverging paths from the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final. There was a time when Alli could have changed the game, but he did little to annoy Klopp’s men at Wanda Metropolitano that night, as he struggled to form an opportunity even with Tottenham spending long stretches. In control of acquisition and territory.
Now out of the picture when it comes to England and struggling to regain his form under Jose Mourinho, he is said to have been made available for a transfer by Tottenham.
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He’s still 24 years old and probably paying the price to play a lot, very early, after spending thousands of minutes in senior football before turning 21.
Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah and Romelu Lukaku can all be the inspiration for building a successful career at the highest level after being frozen by Mourinho and the new challenge and the better environment for him might be – but that won’t be at Anfield.
For a long time, Liverpool had seized the opportunity to correct their failure to sign Alli. They no longer need to show their progress.
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