The rise and rise of Dele Alli

Joining up with the squad in the summer after finishing the 2014/15 campaign with MK Dons, Dele Alli arrived with little fanfare, but quiet expectation given the track record of Spurs' Head of Recruitment Paul Mitchell. 

Six months on and the 19-year-old has become an integral cog in the first XI in what is arguably the most well-drilled and coherent Spurs side in recent memory, featuring in 18 of the club’s 20 Premier League outings.

The midfielder's fledgling Spurs career sprung to life with his goal at Leicester back in August, despite being somewhat marred by the Foxes' Riyad Mahrez equalising less than a minute later.

Alli only had to wait until mid-September to be handed his first start in the Premier League. The midfielder played an hour in Spurs' trip to Sunderland, and largely went under the radar, aside from creating a gilt-edged chance for Harry Kane with a fine delivery, a chance that the England international, in the midst of an early season mini-drought, could not convert. 

Pochettino hasn't looked back since handing the 19-year-old a starting berth in the side, and after drumming up unrelenting excitement amongst the Spurs faithful with his consistently astute performances, the former MK Dons man offered arguably his best performance to date in the 1-1 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates in November. 

Alli tormented the Gunners' midfield pairing of Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin, displaying the skill, composure and vision of a player 10 years his senior and sending the usually-unflappable Cazorla into a daze, leading to Arsene Wenger's decision to haul him off at the break.

The midfielder displayed enough attacking prowess in subsequent matches to convince the Argentine to move him further up the pitch, a switch that has seen the England international have a hand in six goals in his last seven Premier League outings, notching three goals and three assists.

Despite the shift from central midfield to a more advanced role, Alli's defensive contribution has been mightily impressive, with his combined tally of tackles and interceptions (85) higher than any other teenager in Europe's top five leagues this season (via WhoScored). 

Alli's remarkable rise to paramount importance was highlighted by Pochettino's decision to bring him on in an attempt to salvage a draw in Sunday's clash with Leicester City at White Hart Lane in the FA Cup.

The Argentine opted to rest a number of regular starters with Wednesday's Premier League game with the Foxes in mind, but introduced both Alli and Kane in the second half in a bid to rescue the tie, with Kane's late penalty earning the Lilywhites a replay.

Academy graduate Josh Onomah was handed a starting berth after a number of substitute appearances in the league, with the 18-year-old playing a role in the squad one might have expected to see Alli perform this season when the signing of the teenager was announced a year ago. 

When discussing Alli's England call-up back in October, Pochettino was clear in his belief that it may have come too soon for the teenager, and stressed the importance of patience when dealing with players of Alli's age. 

"Be careful with the young players that arrive in the Premier League. It is not easy." The former Southampton boss said. You can see that Dele is very mature and a player who shows great quality. 

"He has a great personality and good character. But it is too much of a rush to talk about bigger steps for him. Always in football, you need to take it step-by-step, game-by-game."

Three months on from Alli's call-up to the senior England squad and the midfielder's rise to prominence has continued unabated, and while Pochettino is understandably keen to ease the weight of expectation of Alli's young shoulders, the excitement generated by the teenager continues to hold sway.

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