4 main takeaways from Dele Alli's Monday Night Football appearance

  • Dele appeared as guest on Sky Sports' coverage of Chelsea 6-0 Everton
  • Midfielder opened up on struggles in personal life and childhood last year
  • 28-year-old spoke about Liverpool's previous interest, Tottenham's rivalry with Chelsea and more
Dele returned to TV screens on Monday
Dele returned to TV screens on Monday / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

Dele Alli made his debut as a pundit as part of Sky Sports' Monday Night Football coverage this week.

The Everton midfielder watched on from the studio as his teammates were thrashed 6-0 by Chelsea to round off Gameweek 33 of this Premier League season.

After bravely admitting to struggles in his personal life and childhood last year, Dele appears to be nearing a return to football and it was great to see him back in the limelight for positive reasons.

Here's what we learned from his appearance on Monday Night Football.

Failed Liverpool transfer

Dele Alli, Joël Matip, Tyler Morton
Dele could have represented the red half of the city / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Dele grew up as a fan of Liverpool and has previously stated that Reds legend Steven Gerrard was his footballing idol.

He came through the ranks of local side Milton Keynes Dons and broke into their first-team setup as a teenager, catching the eye of England's biggest clubs.

Though Dele would go on to sign for Tottenham Hotspur in 2015, he held talks with Liverpool over a move to Anfield as well, meeting with then-manager Brendan Rodgers.

On Monday, he said: "So after the game, Liverpool would play in West Ham, I think in London. And then I went to meet Brendan Rodgers after that game, the night before the Liverpool game, and we had a conversation, but it never happened. I felt at that time I was ready to take the next step."

Dele signed for Spurs at the end of the January 2015 transfer window under the stipulation he would spend the rest of that season back on loan at MK Dons, who were successful in their bid to earn promotion from League One.

"I wanted to go [back to MK on loan] because I wanted to see the team get promoted," he added. "Obviously it was my local team and we were second in the league. So I wanted to go back and try and help them finish that off. Because by that time, [I knew] I'd be definitely ready to go to the Premier League."

If Dele had gone to Liverpool, he would have eventually been managed by Jurgen Klopp. What kind of world would that have looked like?

Bond with Mauricio Pochettino

Pochettino took Dele under his wing / GLYN KIRK/GettyImages

We can sit and imagine what Dele under Klopp would have looked like, but we know for sure he was a roaring success with Mauricio Pochettino as his manager.

Pochettino threw the midfielder straight into his first-team setup, first as a deep-lying playmaker alongside Eric Dier and then further forward off the shoulder of Harry Kane.

Dele's highest highs came at Pochettino's Tottenham, hitting double digits of goals three years in a row and boasting a phenomenal big-game record that included a match-winning brace against Real Madrid.

Pochettino, now the head coach of Chelsea, was interviewed with Dele in the studio prior to kick-off on Monday.

"Good evening, this is new for me, I was in my manager's room watching your interview earlier" Pochettino began. "I need to talk now. I cannot see you but I want to say hello to Dele.

"What a player, oh my goodness, oh my goodness. It's good to see you there and I am happy to see you."

Tottenham's rivalry with Chelsea

Dele Alli
Dele scored more goals against Chelsea (6) than any other opponent / Chris Brunskill Ltd/GettyImages

Dele's first two seasons at Tottenham revolved around Chelsea some way or another. Their 2015/16 title hopes were officially ended by the Blues before Spurs were pipped to first-place and a spot in the FA Cup final one year later.

"In [2016/17], they'd go on unbelievable runs," Dele said of Chelsea. "This one was tough because we'd be like 3-0 up at half-time and go on our phones and look at their result, it's 0-0. Then we'll come in after a game and they've scored to make it 1-0 in the last minute. And we're thinking 'how long is this going to go on for?'.

"That one was harder. The whole season we were kind of like, 'OK we've won 5-1, they've won 1-0 because of an own goal'."

Dele also commented on how ferocious the rivalry with Chelsea became.

"During my time at Tottenham, I felt like...obviously Arsenal and Tottenham have the [north London] rivalry, but the Chelsea-Tottenham thing, I think as a group of players, that became more personal. We always wanted to beat them. We obviously had the 'Battle of the Bridge' season and I think the dynamic kind of changed.

"We weren't really concentrating on Arsenal as much, it was more focussing on beating Chelsea. And obviously it changes, maybe Arsenal have taken over [as rivals] a little more right now, but I think Tottenham are going through a transition and hopefully they get back on top."

World Cup hopes and a better state

Dele Alli
Dele is targeting an England return / Jean Catuffe/GettyImages

Perhaps the best nugget of information to come from Dele's appearance was that he's in a better mental state and is nearing a return to action following a lengthy spell on the sidelines with injury.

"I've had to be patient and really learn what patience is. It's been a long journey with the [groin] injury," he said.

"A lot of ups and downs and it’s helped me grow as a person. I'm not thankful to be injured but to have this opportunity to get to know myself. I think the pain of the injury is something I can channel when I am back and use it to motivate me.

"After the interview a lot of people asked me 'when are you coming back to football' and they thought I was taking a break. It's just been an injury problem, one that I'm hopefully getting to the end of. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I'm excited."

He also revealed he is aiming to make England's squad for the 2026 FIFA World Cup having played a major role in the Three Lions' run to the semi-finals in 2018.

"I have a reminder on my phone. 11 o’clock every day: World Cup 2026. That is my aim. People will say, 'He hasn't played in a year'. I don't care. I know what my level is.

"The only target I have is the World Cup. I'm injured right now. I'm signed to Everton. My mindset is to take it day by day, make sure my injury heals right and that I am in the best possible condition for the summer. I don’t want to rush it."