The curious case of Dele Alli took another twist on transfer deadline day last month. Out of favour at Tottenham Hotspur for some time now, new Everton boss Frank Lampard moved quickly to bring the 25-year-old to Goodison Park before the window slammed shut on January 31st — the same day the former Chelsea boss was officially named as Rafael Benítez’s successor in the blue half of Merseyside.
It certainly wasn’t your standard deal though. Alli has initially signed for the club on a free transfer, with Spurs due £10 million when the England international reaches the 20-game mark for Everton, while future add-ons could eventually see the overall price rise to a huge £40m. Given that the north London side are relying on Alli to actually perform well to receive any of those potential fees, jokes are already being made on social media that they won’t see a penny.
But this is a fresh start for Alli, or at least it’s meant to be, so is there a possibility that he could revive his career at Goodison Park under the guidance of Lampard? Well, rather worryingly for the passionate Toffees fanbase, the arrival of Alli, Lampard and Donny van de Beek, who joined Everton on loan from Manchester United on deadline day, hasn’t done much to actually improve their chances of avoiding the drop in the Premier League betting odds. That 3-1 defeat to Newcastle United brought them back down to earth after the highs of beating Brentford 4-1 in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Everyone involved with the club will be hoping that the noise from the outside since Alli’s move doesn’t distract him from the task at hand. He has already been heavily criticised for arriving to complete his move in a flashy Rolls Royce, while he was even ripped into for what he was wearing when unveiled to the crowd alongside van de Beek during half-time of Everton’s FA Cup clash with Thomas Frank’s Bees.
Constant criticism and negative comments are bound to have an adverse effect on the player — he is only human after all. However, Lampard was quick to jump to Alli’s defence following the comments from the likes of Ally McCoist, Alan Brazil and Glenn Hoddle.
“I have a lot of respect and admiration for people like Ally, Alan and Glenn and I’m not hitting back at their observations because everyone is allowed their opinion,” Chelsea’s all-time top scorer said. “But personally, I don’t care what car he drives or what clothes he wears as long as he comes to training every day, wants to improve every day, respects the club and his team-mates and gives everything.”
Alli made his first Everton appearance in that aforementioned 3-1 league defeat to Eddie Howe’s side, replacing the injured Demarai Gray in the 25th minute, and it’s fair to say that it’s not exactly the debut he would have pictured. The 25-year-old failed to make any real impact on the game and the Toffees’ fan base were left furious with the display.
But it’s worth noting that this is a side struggling with form and confidence, the arrival of Lampard was never going to make them instant favourites in the Premier League football tips. Alli, and van de Beek for that matter, has hardly played any football for the best part of two seasons, so it will take a while to rebuild that sharpness and belief — hence why the gaffer didn’t throw him straight into the starting XI against Newcastle.
We all know that there is a decent player in there somewhere, it’s about Alli changing his attitude and getting his head down on a training pitch. José Mourinho’s treatment of the midfielder during his time at Spurs was well documented and deemed harsh at the time, but it turned out the 59-year-old had a point. He failed to talk some sense into him in a clip that hit hard in All or Nothing, but hopefully Lampard can and Alli is really willing to change this time.