Tottenham have completed the signing of an 18-year-old MK Dons midfielder who has quietly been making a name for himself in Milton Keynes this season.
Dele Alli is a local lad to the Buckinghamshire city, and has become particularly popular with the fans for his gutsy midfield performances, talent on the ball and penchant for a juicy tackle.
Despite his age, Alli has scored 18 goals in 60 first team appearances. He has featured for England up to Under-19s level and, with a growing reputation, and was reportedly been scouted by a host of European clubs including Bayern Munich.
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Alli signed for Spurs in a £5m deal, but has moved back to MK Dons for the remainder of the season. It’s the sort of figure MK Dons have been holding out for – and one which manager Karl Robinson says could “keep our academy going for a long time to come”.
Robinson grew up a short drive from what is now the Dons’ stadium – but at a time when there was no professional football club in the vicinity.
Tottenham: Players linked with a January transfer
Tottenham: Players linked with a January transfer
1/12 Emmanuel Emenike
The pacey Nigerian striker is available for £15m and Spurs are certainly lacking fire power in attack with Harry Kane currently carrying the team by himself. However, the players agent has confirmed that Spurs are yet to make a bid for the player, and Fenerbahce would like to hold on to him until at least the summer.
2/12 Carlos Bacca
Seville's Colombian forward has already scored 10 goals this season for his club and is being lined up by Mauricio Pochettino to join Harry Kane in attack, with current Spurs striker Roberto Soldado a possible make-weight in any move for him.
3/12 Jay Rodriguez
The Southampton midfielder was coveted by Spurs in the last transfer window. Expected to return to action in January after recovering from the ACL knee injury which forced him to miss the World Cup.
4/12 Morgan Schneiderlin
Like Rodriguez, Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino knows Schneiderlin all too well from his days as Southampton manager.
5/12 Aly Cissokho
The Aston Villa full-back, who was at Liverpool on loan from Valencia last season, has been linked with a January move to White Hart Lane.
6/12 Ezequiel Lavezzi
The Argentinian forward is understood to be currently unsettled at PSG, having failed to report back for training. Would be Spurs’ marquee signing of the season if it comes off.
7/12 Sergi Samper
Spurs scouts are reportedly looking at the 19-year-old Barcelona midfielder, who has appeared in cup competitions for the Catalan giants. A loan move for the remainder of the season is a possibility.
8/12 Niklas Moisander
The Ajax captain, 29, was at voted Finnish Football of the Year in both 2012 and 2013. The centre-back’s contract runs out at the end of the season.
The powerful Zenit St Petersburg striker was linked with a move to Tottenham in the last January transfer window. Will this be the year Spurs bite the bullet?
10/12 Ezequiel Ponce
The highly-rated 17-year-old Argentinian who plays his club football for Newell’s Old Boys, has reportedly sparked a budding war between Roma and Tottenham.
11/12 Andrej Kramaric
The Belgian striker is also reportedly a £7.5m target for Chelsea. Has scored 21 goals in his first 18 league matches this season for HNK Rijeka.
12/12 Hector Moreno
The Argentine defender, 26, worked under Pochettino at Espanyol during the manager's time with the Spanish club.
Inspired by his idol Steven Gerrard, Alli became and remains an ardent Liverpool fan – and told BBC Sport in the summer that he was flattered by comparisons between his style of play and that of his hero, who is leaving the Reds for the US in June.
Alli joined MK Dons at the age of 11, and made his first-team debut at the age of 16 as a substitute.
His first touch in a professional match was famously an almost overly-confident back-heel – which perfectly picked out a team-mate. Though he also remembers the match for a shocker of a shot from range, it was that which brought him to Robinson’s attention.
“I was going to throttle him,” he told the BBC. “It was 0-0 against a team from non-league. [But] in the replay he scored from 35 yards. And I knew the kid had something.”
Alli’s most eye-catching total performance came in August last year when MK Dons knocked Manchester United out of the League Cup with a 4-0 win. With plenty of scouts looking on, Alli put in a confident display to outshine international stars including Shinji Kagawa and Adnan Januzaj.
In September Alli signed a three-year deal with the Dons, who were keen to ensure they reaped proper value for their youth investment.
And while Newcastle United were reported to have matched the team’s £5m valuation for Alli earlier in the window, it is believed he rejected the idea of a move to the North East.
He has already scored 12 from midfield this season alone, and will remain a key part of the team’s plans in League One until the summer.Reuse content