Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino is confident about Dele Alli that he can handle the hype after Sir Alex Ferguson said he was the most talented midfielder since Paul Gascoigne. The 19-year-old Alli has seven goals and 12 assists in his first Premier League season, also impressing for England’s win over Germany on Saturday. Pochettino said he agreed with Ferguson’s assessment. “It’s very good praise from one of the best managers in football history,” said the Argentine.
He added: “Am I worried about the hype? No, you can see the whole season how he has managed the pressure. He is very calm, very mature.” Spurs visit Liverpool on Saturday, where Alli will face England team-mate James Milner, who does not want to put too much pressure on the teenager. “We want to take it off him and let him go out there and not worry about it,” said Milner. “Worry about playing football and keep improving because he is still young. Good as he is at this moment, he can be 10 times better and he will.”
Alli has played a big part in Tottenham’s challenge for a first title since 1961, linking up with striker Harry Kane on seven occasions to become the most productive partnership in Europe’s top five leagues. “He has managed the pressure and the popularity and how to be a senior player and play for the national team,” said Pochettino. “He is very calm. Now he is fresh, at a good level, he has a good mentality. He is mature enough. We have no worries about his future,” added Pochettino.
Alli was close to joining Liverpool while still at MK Dons, but the Reds stalled on the deal, allowing Spurs to seize the advantage. But Pochettino admits he has been surprised by the speed of Alli’s progress. “There is always a question mark with a young player,” he said. You can assess his left and right foot, his performance on the pitch and in training. But how a young player can be affected by the big things that happen in football – being a senior player, being in the national team – this is always a question mark. “All the same, it has surprised us how he has shown maturity.”