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Once compared to Ronaldinho and Diego Maradona Alli has watched his career spectacularly decline

Everton midfielder Dele Alli has emerged as a shock transfer target for Turkish outfit Besiktas

Dele Alli was compared by Pochettino to Ronaldinho and Maradona during his early years at Tottenham… who could have predicted that he would be unwanted by Everton and leave for Besiktas at the age of 26?

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The heights he reached during his peak and the names that came to mind when one of his former managers and mentors spoke of Dele Alli could hardly be further away right now.

The man who was once one of the shining hopes of English football is being unwanted by Everton. They are not exactly overflowing with attacking quality, but they are happy to let Alli leave for Turkey.

As much as he caused it himself, Alli’s demise still evokes an element of sadness in those who remember the good old days.

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Everton midfielder Dele Alli has emerged as a shock transfer target for Turkish outfit Besiktas

There were many of them too, most notably under Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham.

“Maradona was a talented, gifted player; so strong, physicality, natural body that is strong, fast, powerful; but then his character, it’s winning, the DNA,” Pochettino once said.

“The charisma is the best he has, when he enters the room everyone looks at him, everyone wants to touch him, wants to ask for a picture.

Ronaldinho at Paris Saint-Germain was similar. And it is similar to Dele in this way. When he scored goals, kids loved him like he was Ronaldinho. Children feel this charisma, this energy, and the same thing happened to Dele.’

The Toffees star has played a total of 38 minutes in the first two Premier League matches

The Toffees star has played a total of 38 minutes in the first two Premier League matches

It was under Pochettino at Tottenham that Alli rose spectacularly after coming from MK Dons for an initial £5million with a number of individual honors from his Football League days underlining his potential.

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He initially thrived in central midfield and later played against Harry Kane, enjoying the license to get into attacking positions and loot targets.

He was named PFA Young Player of the Year two years in a row, in 2016 and 2017, and he marked his full-length debut in England with a wonder goal against France before playing a key role at the 2018 World Cup.

“Dele was a great player for us; the hunger and the energy and the aggression,” Pochettino added during a performance on Sky’s Monday Night Football in 2020.

Mauricio Pochettino made the most of Alli, who has struggled to replicate those heights ever since

Mauricio Pochettino made the most of Alli, who has struggled to replicate those heights ever since

That spark and lead have disappeared in recent years, a process that began when he returned to central midfield under Pochettino.

Jose Mourinho tried to bring him back to his old position, but a bright start soon faded and the manager’s confrontational style didn’t help rebuild Alli, who fell out of favor. Some have wondered if Alli doesn’t like the game at all anymore.

He fared no better under Nuno Espirito Santo and by the time Antonio Conte arrived at Spurs in November the damage had already been done.

Frank Lampard, one of English football’s great midfielders, seemed like the ideal candidate for the Everton restoration job, but he too has been unable to discover what the 26-year-old’s motivation is.

Who could have predicted that Alli would find himself in this dire situation, in what should have been his peak years, when he was under Pochettino and radiant?

Antonio Conte was also unable to extract Alli's former self during their time together at Spurs

Antonio Conte was also unable to extract Alli’s former self during their time together at Spurs

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