No pressure, Dele Alli, but you’ve just been described as the best young midfielder since Paul Gascoigne by none other than Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ferguson has been keeping a close eye on the Premier League this season and believes there’s something special about the Tottenham and England teenager.
Alli, 19, has enjoyed a superb campaign for club and country and is well on the way to establishing himself as one of the Premier League’s best midfielders.
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Judging by his latest comments, Ferguson would love to see Alli strutting his stuff at Old Trafford as a Manchester United player.
“He is probably the best young midfielder I have seen in many years,” Ferguson was quoted as saying by the Press Association’s Paul Hirst, “probably going back as far as Gascoigne."
Praise doesn’t come much higher than that.
Ferguson almost signed Gazza for United
Ferguson famously attempted to sign Gascoigne in the late 1980s, when the former England international was still with Newcastle United.
Gazza gave his word to Ferguson that he would sign for the Red Devils, only to perform a dramatic U-turn and opt for a move to Tottenham instead after the Manchester United manager went on holiday.
"Alan Shearer is one I wish I'd signed, but for me the most disappointing of all was Paul Gascoigne,” Ferguson was quoted as saying by the Telegraph in 2008. "He was the best player of his era, a breath of fresh air because he played with a smile.
"We spoke to him the night before I went on holiday. He says 'Go and enjoy yourself Mr Ferguson, I'll be signing for Manchester United'.
"So I went on my holidays but Martin Edwards (then chairman) rang and said 'I've got some bad news - he signed for Tottenham. They bought a house for his mother and father in the north east and that swung it’.
"I think it was a bad mistake, and Paul admits it. We had Bryan Robson, a Geordie, Steve Bruce, a Geordie, Gary Pallister, from Middlesbrough... we had a structure of players who could have helped him and it could have given him some discipline."
Dele Alli is different to Paul Gascoigne...
Alli, who comes across as a level-headed lad, could be forgiven if he felt secretly delighted to receive such lofty praise from a footballing icon like Ferguson.
However, there’s a risk that such comparisons will raise expectation levels - and, ahead of Euro 2016, this is probably the last thing the youngster needs.
But he’s handled everything that’s come his way so far. The increased fame hasn’t affected either his game or his attitude in a negative way.
The former MK Dons star, who signed a new five-year contract with Spurs in January, will have the likes of Mauricio Pochettino and Roy Hodgson to help him stay grounded - not that he’ll necessarily need their words of wisdom to remain focused on his football.
Is Dele Alli the best English midfielder since Paul Gascoigne? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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