Although this season is yet to come to a finish, Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino already faces a difficult decision with regards to the short-term future of attacking midfielder Dele Alli.
The 18-year-old has been in outstanding form this season and has progressed quicker than anyone ever expected. However, in order for him to continue to progress, he will need to ensure he is still playing regular first-team football next season.
After scoring 14 goals in 38 games from predominantly a central attacking midfield role, he also looks too gifted to send back out on loan as he could play a part in Spurs’ Champions League push next campaign.
Therefore, the problem for Pochettino is how to get the youngster into the first team as soon as possible, and ensure he is getting enough game time to develop.
We take a look at two options Pochettino could consider in order to get Alli in a Spurs shirt as regularly as possible.
Change of system
The obvious answer would be to consider a change of system.
Although Christian Eriksen is considered the main man at Spurs, it stands to reason that he could work just as well next to Alli in a central attacking midfield role as he does on his own.
The major problem with this proposed method is that Nacer Chadli and Erik Lamela would become a victim to the midfield shift and Spurs would potentially lose width, which given Harry Kane’s strength in the air would be far from ideal.
Straight swap for a wide attacking midfielder
Dele Alli will face competition for a place in the Spurs team as long as he remains there, so should be considered as a direct alternative for a wide attacking midfielder.
Although it’s not his game, the 18-year-old is clearly still learning and could look to benefit from a change of position.
If it doesn’t work or the system becomes jaded, there is always the possibility he could swap with Eriksen and allow the Danish attacker to take a role outwide as he continues to sit behind the attacker.