A scramble for Dele Alli’s signature was predicted long before the January transfer window swung open its doors for business.
Those tipping the talented teenager to be a wanted man were spot on as Premier League sides fell over themselves in an effort to lure the youngster away from MK Dons.
In the end, Tottenham Hotspur were to emerge victorious – with a reported £5 million fee and a willingness to return the England youth international to the Dons on loan for the rest of the season seeing them secure the hottest of prospects on a five-and-a-half-year contract.
At just 18 years of age, this has been a big winter for Alli.
He has been generating headlines for some time, but there is a huge difference in intensity between spotlights in League One and those illuminating the Premier League.
Alli is, however, being tipped to take the step up from third to top tier in his stride, with former Dons teammate Izale McLeod among those to have talked up his obvious potential.
On Alli’s switch to Spurs and his chances of making the grade among English football’s elite, the experienced frontman told HITC Sport: “Really good player. It’s hard to believe at times that he’s only 18. I think he has all the potential. You can’t look into the future, but if he keeps his head down and works hard he should be a top, top player and I wish all the best for him.
“Only time will tell if it was the right time and the right club. Tottenham is a massive football club. He will have everything he needs to improve as a player and as a person. I’m sure he’ll enjoy it down there. Only time will tell if he becomes a top, top player but he certainly has the potential.
“He’s a confident lad, confident in his own ability. He shouldn’t have any problems.”
McLeod played alongside Alli in Milton Keynes last season, but moved on to Crawley Town last summer in search of regular first team football.
He, like his former colleague, has enjoyed a productive 2014/15 campaign, with the 30-year-old seeing his exploits for a club currently stuck inside the League One relegation zone recognised with the Sky Bet League One Player of the Month award for February.
On his current employers, he said: “Everyone is feeling pretty confident that we can get the results required to get out this position. It’s a great place to come into work at the moment even though we’re in the relegation zone.
“We’ve had a few good results recently and it’s really tight at the bottom. We just have to keep picking up points when we can and keep plugging away. We’re pretty confident and if we can keep picking up results, we should be able to get out of it.
“I’ve got 15 goals so far so I’m really pleased with how things are going personally. I’m just hungry for more. I want to keep playing well and scoring goals for the team. If I can do that and the team can play well, it’s only going to benefit Crawley.”
McLeod admits he is also benefiting from working under former Liverpool and Aston Villa striker Dean Saunders, with a man capped on 75 occasions by Wales passing on a few tricks of the trade when it comes to the art of goalscoring.
He added: “Dean was a top striker so all I can do is take on the advice he passes on to me and try to learn from it. He knows about playing up front so it’s really good for me. You’re never too old to learn. The gaffer was a top striker at the top level, so any advice he can give me will benefit me and my game.
“I just want to play football. That’s what I’ve been doing this season. As long as I’m doing that, I’m happy. It was definitely the right move.”
If McLeod can fire Crawley to safety, his decision to move on will have been entirely justified.
Whether the same can be said for Alli, we may have to wait a few more years before passing judgement.
Izale McLeod was speaking on behalf of Sky Bet, the Title Sponsor of The Football League. This season, a £250,000 Sky Bet Transfer Fund will go to a Football League club to spend on players in the 2015 summer transfer window. Fans who bet with Sky Bet generate Transfer Fund Tokens and go into a random draw to win a £5,000 prize – and the £250,000 Sky Bet Transfer Fund for their Football League club.
To sign up, go to www.skybet.com/transferfundand select the Football League team you support.
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