Dele Alli has emerged as an early favourite for the PFA Young Player of the Year after an explosive start to his Spurs career.
The award, issued by the Professional Footballers’ Association for players under 23, is often seen as a good indicator of which starlets have really made the grade at the highest level.
The 19-year-old became an immediate fan-favourite at White Hart Lane, after initial fears that he might be out of his depth in the Premier League after making the jump up the divisions from MK Dons.
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He has now scored two and assisted two in his last four games, with his latest goal coming in Tottenham’s 2-0 win at Southampton.
Part of Alli’s appeal is that he has become almost indispensable in the Spurs line-up, and is presumably one of the first names on the team sheet every week.
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Alli becomes a Spurs lynch pin
Spurs team mate and 22-year-old Harry Kane could also be up for the award for the second year in a row, having overcome a difficult start to the season to shrug off the criticism of being a one-season wonder.
Alli could well pip him to the post though, excelling since he signed for the club for just £5 million. Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino may have eased him into the first team at the start of the season, but he has now demonstrated that he is more than comfortable in the starting XI. He has even gone on to impress for England with a phenomenal strike on his full debut against France.
It is now key that he maintains that form and doesn’t become a flash in the pan himself, as has happened all too often with promising youngsters in the Premier League.
In fact, the candidate list will look very different from last year. Raheem Sterling (21) has struggled to replicate his best form at Manchester City, while Manchester United’s Luke Shaw (20) will miss out after suffering a broken leg against PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League. Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish will also struggle to make the shortlist with his club languishing in the relegation zone.
However, that does not mean Alli is a certainty for the award, facing tough competition from Everton’s John Stones, Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin, Liverpool’s Jordan Ibe and United’s Memphis Depay.
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