With Christian Eriksen announcing he's open to the possibility of moving on to pastures new, Tottenham fans will be slightly concerned as to where the creativity will come from next season, should the Dane leave White Hart Lane in the summer.
The playmaker has been linked with a move to Real Madrid and with only one year left on his contract, he's yet to sign an extension. Speaking to the Danish media he revealed he 'might want to try something new', sparking the question - who can Mauricio Pochettino get to replace him?
Look no further than Deli Alli.
The Englishman is ready to take on more attacking responsibility and the departure of Eriksen may be a blessing in disguise for the midfielder - and for the future of Spurs.
Dele's 2018/19 season was hampered by injuries, missing a combined 22 games through a thigh strain, recurring hamstring injury and a fractured hand. This undoubtedly had an effect on his performances last term and it's reflected in his stats. Contributing to only eight goals in the Premier League, this was his worse season by numbers in the last five years.
His underwhelming campaign comes off the back of a World Cup where he looked slightly burnt out. He'd had two terms of high-class performances for Spurs, competing in title races for the first time, scoring a remarkable 18 goals in the 16/17 season followed by nine goals and ten assists in 17/18. The thigh strain sustained in Russia was given little time to heal resulting in his stop-start campaign in 18/19.
Last season is a blip in Dele's meteoric rise since his move from MK Dons in 2015 and we forget that he is still only 23. When you look at what Dele has done at such a young age, compared to ex-England attacking midfielders Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard when both were 23, it's hard to think why the youngster wouldn't be the first name on the list of replacements for Eriksen.
Dele has more goals than either of them at the same age and matches them for assists. He's been playing first-team football consistently for the majority of his professional career and it's now time for Pochettino to give him the responsibility that had been trusted to Eriksen.
Happy 23rd birthday Dele Alli 🎂— SBAT (@SBATSportsTips) April 11, 2019
Premier League Statistics:
🅰️ 125 appearances
🅰️ 148 appearances
🅰️ 136 appearances
Think people forget how young @dele_official is still!
What a player! 💪 pic.twitter.com/pcyTeHNIU4
When Dele was in the starting lineup alongside Eriksen, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min last term, he was forced to play a more defensive role than he would be used to. Spurs relied on Eriksen to unlock the door and provide the assists for the front two, leaving Ali in a backup role, not quite as heavily involved in the attack as he would have liked.
Pochettino has been accused by pundits of playing him out of position last season and I have to agree. Dele thrives in an advanced role, his quick thinking and nimble footwork allows for an almost unconscious link up to flourish with the likes of Kane and Lucas Moura, as showcased in the Champions League semi-final comeback against Ajax.
With one second left on the clock, back to goal on the edge of the area, he somehow managed to keep calm and slot the ball through to an oncoming Moura to score the biggest goal in Spurs' history. Moura deservedly took the headlines that night but the audacity from Dele to flick the ball into his path when all hope seemed lost should not go unnoticed.
It was also his driving run which opened up the opportunity for Moura's second goal that evening. He actually lined up that match in a three-man midfield, behind Christian Eriksen, but when they needed him most he transformed into all-out attack mode, and it was devastating.
He has the ability to take the game by the scruff of the neck, an area where the Danish midfielder sometimes shy's away from. Although still physically aggressive, he' s matured greatly and doesn't allow for petulant behaviour from opposition players to have an effect on his focus as it once did.
In Dele you have a ready-made replacement for Eriksen. Give him the responsibility, give him the role and allow him to do what he does best. Spurs have the foundations to kick on and challenge in Europe again next season but an expensive replacement for Eriksen is not what they need.
They have that right under their nose, one of their own who is primed to take the spotlight and propel Pochettino's side to the next level.