Who is Dele Alli? Tottenham close to completing deal for 'next Steven Gerrard'

18-year-old MK Dons midfielder and Liverpool fan understood to be costing Spurs around £5m

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The Independent Football

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.

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.