Couple months ago, Pundit Alan Shearer on BBC Match of the Day heaped praise on Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero and rightly so after the Argentinian scored a brilliant double against West Brom at the Hawthorns as City romped to a 4-0 victory. However, what was alarming by Shearer’s comments was at the point where he stated that Aguero is the “one genuine world class player we have in our Premier League.”
The former England goalscorer added: “When you look at his record, when you look at some of the goals that he can score, the goals that he has scored, he’s world class”. Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker then suggested that Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez may be included in this category, but Shearer dismissed Lineker’s suggestion and stated that Aguero was the only one worthy of being placed in the enviable category.
Certainly, Sergio Aguero is without a shadow of doubt worthy of the ‘World Class’ tag, but he being the ‘Only’ World Class player as claimed by Shearer is hugely controversial. So what do we really mean by ‘World Class’? How can a footballer be deemed as ‘World Class’?
There has been much debate spouting around regarding the term ‘World Class’. In my opinion, a World Class player is someone who can play – and “walk” into any of the top sides in the World, or the term can be measured by the undeniable ability of a player and his the amount of success the player has garnered across his individual career. Can we associate these characteristics with Sergio Aguero? Certainly. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich would jump at the chance to sign the Argentinian striker. Are we able to say the same about Alexis Sanchez? Well, he was sold by Barcelona. However, he was sold merely because he could not push the likes Messi and Neymar out of the line-up. Ask Luis Enrique if he would like Alexis back under different circumstances and he would drool over the possibility.
Nonetheless, to put the gloss over Alan Shearer’s comments on Match of the Day, Sergio Aguero isn’t the only World Class footballer the Premier League has to offer. There are in fact a number of them, to name a few: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mesut Ozil, Diego Costa, Eden Hazard, David Silva, Paul Pogba etc. Within those group of players, there are two who have taken the world by storm with their performances over a number of seasons, but are frighteningly yet to reach the peak of their powers; Paul Pogba and Eden Hazard who are respectively at the ages of 23 and 25 are players who at some point – if not now – be considered World Class performers. If that’s the case, we can place them in the ‘World Class’ potential category.
Eden Hazard and Paul Pogba are certainly on their way to Global stardom, but they aren’t the only ones in the Premier League, if there is ever a player we could happily place in that ‘World Class’ potential category as described above then look no further than Tottenham attacking midfielder and England international; Dele Alli. 2016 was Alli’s breakout year in the Premier League, with the player only joining the club from MK Dons in 2015. It is quite incredible as to how much the midfielder has grown in such a short space of time. Credit to Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino who has taken him under his wing and nurtured him to become the player he is now – and to think, he is only 20 years of age – imagine the ability of Alli when he reaches 25.
Alli has been involved in 26 goals in 50 Premier League goals (16 goals, 10 assists) – one more than his team mate Christian Eriksen had garnered at this stage (25) and only eight Spurs players have been involved in more in their opening 50 Premier League appearances for the club. His doubles against Southampton, Watford and the in the significant 2-0 victory have took his tally for the season to an impressive 10 goals and has given Pochettino a much added impetus in terms of lightening the pressure on Harry Kane to fire the goals for Tottenham.
On the same day that Mauricio Pochettino lauded Alli as the “most important player to have emerged in English football in recent years”, Dele Alli produced a performance and an example why he is the brightest young player to breakthrough the youth ranks in recent years. Chelsea travelled to White Hart Lane chasing a record breaking 14th consecutive league win. Tottenham’s talisman ensured Antonio Conte’s men left with nothing.
Tottenham stifled and outclassed Chelsea in ways that no other side has accomplished since Arsenal cruised to a 3-0 victory over Conte’s men in September. When Tottenham’s chances arrived, Dele Alli was there to capitalise; both goals were an example of his prowess in front of goal within the past year. Dele provided Tottenham with a deserved lead with a towering header that even Harry Kane would have been proud of, and he rammed the advantage home with almost carbon copy of his opener after the break.
The 20-year olds performance match winning performance against Chelsea was a continuation of his outstanding run of form. A goal against Burnley followed by two more against Southampton, Watford he has now scored 7 goals in his last 4 appearances for the club. With 10 goals in his last 19 games, he has already equalled his tally for the whole of last season which shows Alli has progressed massively within such a short space of time. He is also the 5th youngest English player to hit 20 Premier League goals. A lot of that isn’t just down to his ability, but the amount of belief and trust that Pochettino has placed on the youngster and the England international certainly reaping the rewards of that faith.
It’s little wonder the Argentinian coach spoke of him in such glowing terms before the game.
“He is a player with a lot of aggression in attack, ruthless and determined when he goes forward which makes him extra dangerous. He understands the play well and is a master at attacking spaces.”
Those traits were clearly evident for his goals against Chelsea. What sets Dele Alli apart from the rest is his fearlessness on the pitch, his air of arrogance and confidence inexplicably says to his opponents “I’m better than you” and that was evident in the goals he scored against Conte’s men.
Impressively, Dele Alli is now the highest scoring midfielder in the League this season, only a goal in front of Sadio Mane and Eden Hazard who both have 9 goals to their names.
Premier League 2016/17 – most goals by midfielders
|Michail Antonio||West Ham||8|
Without a doubt, Dele Alli is a huge talent and a superstar in the making; according to reports, already Real Madrid are suitors for the 20 year old’s signature but with the plan and trust that Pochettino has placed on his squad and the project he is undertaking at Tottenham, Alli will be silly to drop what he has built already at the Lane. With all the hype that surrounds fresh English talent these days, Alli will have be smart to keep himself grounded and not allow any of the attention to get to his head.
Nonetheless, if Alli can maintain his hard work, consistency and his desire to be the best he can be, Alan Shearer will end up eating his words about the amount of World Class of players we have in the English Premier League.
A ‘World Class’ player in the making is being unearthed.. watch the space.