Dele Alli: Should Manchester United target Tottenham outcast?

David Lynch
  • David Lynch
  • Updated: May 19, 2021, 16:43 CEST
  • 2 min read
Dele Alli: Should Manchester United target Tottenham outcast?

Manchester United are reportedly ready to offer Dele Alli a way out of his Tottenham nightmare in January.

Seemingly unfancied by manager Jose Mourinho, the Englishman has made just two of Spurs’ seven Premier League matchday squads this season.

Consequently, it seems likely that he would be open to a mid-season departure in the event an offer materialised.

But would he represent a shrewd acquistion for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? Or is Mourinho right to want to cut all ties? We examine the numbers here.

On the surface

A quick look at Alli’s Premier League return in recent years highlights why he might be considered surplus to requirements in north London.

After bursting onto the scene with 10 goals and nine assists from 33 outings in 2015-16, the midfielder posted a career-best haul of 18 goals and a further seven assists in 37 appearances the following season.

There was little panic over Alli’s form when he found the back of net a still-respectable nine times in 2017-18 and set up his teammates on 10 occasions, but a further decline quickly followed.

Twenty-five games in 2018-19 brought just five goals and three assists, and the same number of outings last term saw him score eight and lay on four goals.

Alli is a long way from the form that saw him scoop back-to-back PFA Young Player of the Year awards.

2015-1628 (5)109
2016-1735 (2)187
2017-1834 (2)910
2018-1922 (3)53
2019-2021 (4)84

Deeper look

Of course, while these base statistics don’t always give a full picture, some of the underlying numbers are not particularly encouraging either.

Having averaged 2.8 shots per match in that incredible 16-17 campaign, Alli dropped to 2.1, 1.9 and 2 over the last three seasons.

And, while his final third passes per 90 minutes stayed solid through his second, third and fourth years at Tottenham (20.5, 20.6, and 20.2), there was a notable decline last term to just 15.9.

This all suggests that Alli is getting in a position to make decisive contributions far less frequently than in his bestyears.

Green shoots

Still, it is not all bad news for the England man.

He continues to get on the ball often enough, having taken 69.2 and 59.4 touches per 90 minutes in 18-19 and 19-20 respectively – numbers that stack up favourably to when he was in his best form.

He is also relatively sturdy when it comes to touches in the box, with last season’s 4.1 a career low but still not too far off his best of 4.9.

Interestingly, Alli’s best expected goals per 90 return of 0.35 came during a disappointing 2019-20 season.

That suggests that he could thrive again given the right environment.