Jose Mourinho has confirmed that he and Dele Alli had a personal meeting on Tuesday afternoon that he says could pave the way for the Tottenham Hotspur man returning to regular first team duty as a “fundamental” figure once more.
Mourinho said Alli could offer “creation and magic” to the Spurs team having not featured in the Premier League since before Christmas. As reported by Telegraph Sport, Mourinho spoke to Alli in a meeting aimed primarily at checking in on the welfare of a player who has not started a Premier League game since the season opener, and has played just once, in the FA Cup third round, since Christmas.
The 24-year-old was deeply unhappy that a loan move to Paris Saint-Germain was blocked in the January transfer window by chairman Daniel Levy. Injuries to Giovani Lo Celso and Harry Kane have meant that Levy was reluctant to let Alli leave without a replacement being found, of which there was none.
Asked whether Alli could be a leader again, Mourinho said: “I think he [Alli] has the potential to be a very important player for us, yes. Leader, leadership – what is that? Leadership on the pitch, leadership on the dressing room? That is a different story. A fundamental player who on the pitch can be very important for the team? Yes, the good Dele Alli – two years ago he was this, two years ago he was that – the good Dele Alli can be very, very important for Tottenham. 100 per cent.”
Mourinho’s relationship with Alli remains very amicable and there is now the possibility that he could return to the first team squad although that is not likely to be in time for Thursday’s home league game against Chelsea. Despite the Amazon Prime documentary framing the pair’s relationship as prickly it has endured, and Mourinho is eager to see the player’s career develop.
“I had a good conversation with him,” Mourinho said on Wednesday. “We found very common ground, let’s say. It’s an important period of the season for the team and for him also. We need him. We need a good Dele Alli and we’re just waiting for him to be back to normality and training with the team.
“It’s not just Dele. It’s Dele, Kane, Gio Lo Celso. And without all three players we miss a little bit of creation and magic in the attacking areas. So we need him back and I made that very clear to him. Of course, a conversation doesn’t make miracles or put a player in great form without limitations in terms of fitness. But I believe the conversation was maybe the extra motivation he needed to be back as soon as possible and become available for the team.”