Dele Alli appears to have taken a swipe at Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho after speaking in glowing terms about former Spurs chief Mauricio Pochettino.
Dele, 24, has been virtually redundant this term, having made only five Premier League appearances. The former MK Dons ace has seen action in the Europa League and both domestic cup competitions.
But it is a poor return after enjoying 236 outings for the north Londoners since his 2015 debut. He was linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain in the January transfer window.
That would have meant a reunion with Pochettino, who replaced Thomas Tuchel at the Parc des Princes. However, he stayed at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and remains on the peripheries.
Earlier this month, Mourinho appeared to offer him an olive branch. The pair sat down to thrash out some issues, with the Portuguese tactician admitting Spurs “need him”.
But he is still seeing no action and kicking his heels on the sidelines. It remains to be seen how the impasse plays out but Dele’s latest words are unlikely to endear him to his current boss.
“I was very lucky to have a manager like Pochettino – he was an unbelievable guy and very experienced,” he told The Sun. “He would pull me in if I was doing dumb stuff and speak with me. Not like a dad – but that sort of vibe.”
England ambitions up in the air
Dele has played 37 times for England since his 2015 debut, scoring three goals. He featured in the 2018 World Cup, playing the full 120 minutes of the 2-1 semi-final loss to Croatia.
But Gareth Southgate did not use him in 2020 and his place at this summer’s delayed European Championship is under threat. A mid-season loan move might have solved the issue but Mourinho stood firm.
And the manager’s words last month suggest a reconciliation is still some way off. Asked if the Spurs’ dressing room was a happy place, the ex-Chelsea chief appeared to take a swipe at Dele.
“In every dressing room are unhappy players,” he said. “For sure. If any one of us tells you that in his dressing room are only happy players,
“I don’t think it’s true. Or somebody is so lucky to have a miracle in his hands. Then you can have an unhappy professional and the unhappy professional is the one that is unhappy but feels that his duty is to work, work, work and work.
“And there is the unhappy player that believes that it’s not his job to fight and to work every minute for the squad and for the club.”
The war of words looks set to continue until the summer when action will need to be taken one way or the other.
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