There is no getting away from the fact it has been a tough 12 months for Dele Alli.
Since playing a crucial role in Tottenham ’s journey to the Champions League final under Mauricio Pochettino, his stock has plummeted.
The England international was tipped to thrive under Jose Mourinho, but instead found himself on the periphery of the Spurs squad.
Fortunately for Alli, the North London side hardly flourished in his absence.
Mourinho was sacked and, like his team-mates, the playmaker is now set to start with a clean slate under successor Nuno Espirito Santo.
Having been out of contention for England’s Euro 2020 squad as a result of his below-par season, Alli has been able to benefit from a quiet summer before being amongst the first crop of players to return to pre-season.
It means he has stolen a march on some of his team-mates who are yet to return, and Alli already looks to have been given a specialised role in Nuno’s new-look side.
Alli got himself on the scoresheet in their season pre-season friendly at Colchester United and was given an interesting position in the side.
The playmaker was featured on the left of a midfield three when Colchester had the ball, focusing on pressing and helping Spurs keep their defensive shape.
But when Spurs got into possession, he would quickly push forward beyond the midfield base, filling a No.10 role behind the striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Alli was lively in the first half showing multiple strings to his bow, and whilst he missed a good chance he made amends by converting a Heung-min Son cross from close range.
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Time will tell whether Alli will prove his worth and establish himself in a refreshed role to thrive under Nuno’s system.
But he outlined earlier this month his desire to make the most out of his fresh start under the former Wolves boss.
“He [Nuno] has done a great job at Wolves,” Alli told Goal. “I am looking forward to speaking to him and working with him. He is a great manager and it is exciting times.
“I want to make this year one of the best I have had. A lot of people have said I need to find the form I was in a few years ago.
“For me, I don’t even want to get to that, I want to go past that and reach my full potential to be the best player I can be.
“It has been a tough few years but I have been working hard and analysing what I need to do to get better.
“I have been training a lot on most days of my holiday. I didn’t feel I needed much rest, so it is just training the whole way through.
“Everyone is looking for that extra few per cent, so you have to keep up. I am feeling good and the best I have felt in a long time.”
Discussing his struggles under previous manager Mourinho, Alli admitted: “The only person I blame is myself.
“I should be performing at a level where it is difficult to not put me in the team or not play me. I don’t blame anyone but myself.
“Working with [Jose] Mourinho was a great experience and one I learned a lot from.”
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