Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has paid tribute to the ‘incredible’ Deli Alli ahead of Sunday’s clash with Tottenham Hotspur, drawing comparisons between the England international and his influential skipper Jack Grealish (the Mirror, 14 Febraury, page 50).
The most in-form English attacker right now is set to take to the stage once again as Villa host Spurs this weekend – but he won’t be wearing white.
Alli might have been re-vitalised since Jose Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino in North London but even he cannot match the influence exerted by Grealish in recent months.
Villa’s number ten, with his socks rolled down and his locks flowing in the winter breeze, has been nothing short of unplayable with his performance in the EFL Cup semi-final victory over Leicester City bordering on world-class.
And Smith, who remembers watching on in awe as a fresh-faced Alli exploded onto the scene at MK Dons, believes there is a comparison to be drawn between two wonderfully talented attacking midfielders.
“The ability (Alli) had at such a young age meant he went straight into the Premier League and hit the ground running,” the former Walsall boss said. “He showed incredible potential, which has continued.
“We believe Jack Grealish has that star quality as well. Jack’s ability is there for all to see. It’s his first season in the Premier League this year and he’s hit the ground running.
“He looks one hell of a player to everyone right now. He has carried the responsibility of being the captain and an Aston Villa fan forward.”
In all competitions this season, Grealish has produced nine goals and seven assists – more than Alli on both counts. And Sunday’s clash could be a key factor in deciding who deserves a seat on the plane to the Euros next summer.
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