Dele Alli

A back-to-his-best Dele Alli could still play a huge part for England

Ross Jackson
Dele Alli  needs to re-find some form
Dele Alli needs to re-find some form /

When Dele Alli scored his 50th goal for Tottenham in December 2018 at the age of just 22, he looked to be a player with the world at his feet.

Already with a World Cup semi-final appearance and multiple individual awards to his name, the Spurs and England midfielder was a star man at both club and international level, though since then his career has taken something of a nose dive.

Alli has scored a total of just 15 goals for Spurs and England since the aforementioned date - failing to score a single Premier League goal throughout the entire 2020/21 campaign - and has subsequently found himself out of the reckoning for Gareth Southgate's squad selections.

Given the success England enjoyed this summer in Alli's absence, you'd be forgiven for thinking his time on the international stage may already have passed. But if he can return to the player we saw at Spurs a few seasons ago there's actually still a huge part for him to play with the Three Lions.

Undoubtedly the the most impressive facet of Alli's game is his ability to get goals from midfield while linking up with a frontman and picking up any loose balls around the edge of the area.

No midfielder in England's Euro 2020 squad has ever even come near the Tottenham man's ridiculous haul of 18 goals in the 2016/17 Premier League season.

You may be thinking goals from midfield aren't necessarily that important if you've got a prolific striker like Harry Kane leading the line as well as players scoring goals from the wide areas, but to triumph at a major tournament you more often than not need to have players from all areas of the pitch chipping in.

Of Italy's 13 goals scored on their way to Euro 2020 glory, five of them were scored by midfielders, while the Three Lions mustered just a solitary goal from midfield - and even that was pretty irrelevant as Jordan Henderson put England 4-0 up against Ukraine in Rome.

Of course England's current crop of players contains individuals capable of scoring goals from midfield with Mason Mount, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden all clocking up decent figures at club level.

However, Southgate tends to prefer the latter two in the wide areas, while Mount's game with England is far more focused on energy and ball retention than simply playing as a number ten, meaning his goal threat is nullified slightly.

Having an in-form player who can contribute both goals and assists from midfield would be a huge asset for Southgate at any major tournament and could ultimately be the difference between England being nearly men and finally crawling their way over the line.

While the return to form of Alli would add goals to England's midfield, there would also be the added bonus of England reaping the reward of his partnership with Kane.

Whether the striker will still be at Spurs beyond this summer remains to be seen, though for now it looks as though Daniel Levy is keen to keep hold of his talisman, meaning both he and Alli will once again be playing regularly alongside each other if the latter can cement his place back in the starting XI.

It's not as though Kane has suffered many dips in form since pulling on an England jersey for the first time in 2015, but his link-up play with Alli at both club and international level was second to none, and if the midfielder can make his way back into the fold with the Three Lions then the pair's understanding and ability to play off each other could be key to England's development.

Southgate already has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal in terms of forward-thinking midfielders, but none of them have proven themselves to be as clinical as Dele Alli, and his return to form could see him have a massive part to play with England