Midfielder has played only 74 minutes in league this season
Alli has been linked with loan move to PSG
José Mourinho has suggested he has an unhappy player on his hands in Dele Alli. The Tottenham attacking midfielder, who is the subject of January transfer discussions, posted a photograph of himself looking fed up on Instagram after Wednesday’s 1-1 draw against Fulham – when he was an unused substitute for the third Premier League game in a row.
Alli has made only four league appearances this season – totalling 74 minutes – although he has played more regularly in the cups. His representatives are exploring his options and Paris Saint-Germain, under the charge of the former Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, want him on loan for the remainder of the season.
Mourinho was asked directly whether Alli was unhappy. “In every dressing room are unhappy players,” the manager replied. “For sure. If any one of us, of my tribe, tells you that in his dressing room are only happy players, I don’t think it’s true. Or somebody is so 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 that believes that it’s not his job to fight and to work every minute for the squad and for the club.”
In such situations, managers almost always specify that their player falls into the hard-working category. It was easy to read into the fact that Mourinho did not with Alli.
The situation is complicated. Mourinho has made it plain on several occasions that he will not allow Harry Winks to leave – another midfielder who wants more regular game time. But he has not done so with Alli, routinely deflecting the question by saying it is not up to him, leading to the feeling that he would sanction a loan.
On the other hand, Mourinho would surely not be happy to lose him without getting a replacement as his squad faces a congested schedule in four competitions.
“The question is if I let Dele go without getting a player in exchange and I’m not going to answer that,” Mourinho said. “It’s not a question that I am comfortable to answer. Of course, I would know how to answer. But I am not ready to answer. I am not ready to make public my vision of the situation.”
The problem for the chairman, Daniel Levy – and a potential source of friction between him and Mourinho – would be getting a replacement for Alli. It would probably have to be on more favourable financial terms than those they might get for Alli’s departure because funds are tight after last summer’s surprisingly large transfer outlay and with coronavirus continuing to have an impact on revenues.