Alli or Nothing: Besiktas loan spell could be last chance to reignite Everton midfielder’s career

The 26-year-old still has time on his side, but our columnist Laura Lawrence wonders if the former England starlet has the desire to turn his career around during a season-long move to Turkey.

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In 2020, during Amazon Prime’s fly-on-the-wall docuseries, All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur, then-manager Jose Mourinho can be seen having a heart-to-heart with Dele Alli. Mourinho told him: “Time flies and I think one day, I think you will regret if you don’t reach what you can reach.”

This was only two years after he’d received his second consecutive PFA Young Player of the Year award.

As he starts over, yet again, this time on a year-long loan with Turkish side, Besiktas, can we keep asking whether 26-year-old Alli has it in him to return to his former glory?

The most telling part of the pep talk from Mourinho was when the Portuguese coach said: “You should demand more from you, not me demanding more from you. Not me. Nobody. You!” Alli smiles and nods along with him, as if it’s not the first time he’s heard this. There’s a vagueness to what the issue is.

Frank Lampard, his latest manager at Everton, said on his departure: “I think it’s the right thing. It hasn’t worked out for Dele here, for different reasons.” The Athletic have reported that Lampard reluctantly agreed to the initial transfer deal in January, but has become frustrated with his effort in training.

There are comparisons with Daniel Sturridge and Nicolas Anelka. Both players had the football world at their feet, but a mixed bag of injuries, suggestions of a lack of effort and, in Anelka’s case, a consistent ability to fall out with first-team coaches. With Alli, it’s harder to pinpoint the precise point of his decline. He doesn’t appear to be a problematic character in the dressing room, there is still talk of the forward having ‘goodwill’ among the clubs. His hamstrings may have caused him to be more cautious, yet there is a persistent rumour of his disinterest.

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Everton were keen to offload Alli due to appearance fees. Having only made 13 appearances for the Toffees, a 20th appearance would have triggered a £10million payment to Spurs. The fact that they’re willing to send him out on loan shows that he’s made little to no impact on the team. For a player that was once touted at £100m, to not even be worth a £10m punt is concerning.

When Anelka returned to the Premier League from Fenerbahce, he looked rejuvenated. His time at Chelsea showed that he could return to form and be influential at the top level, even after a meander to Bolton Wanderers. There’s still hope and time on Alli’s side, but if the desire isn’t there will he just ride out his career? The Turkish fans won’t stand for a lack of passion for the game. This could be the flare that reignites his career otherwise he could finally flame out.

Follow Laura Lawrence on Twitter @YICETOR

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