Full disclosure: I love Dele Alli.
Is it because I've seen multiple MK Dons play multiple times? No. Honestly, I've seen as much of the young, burgeoning international as most people who don't follow League One's every twist and turn, but that doesn't mean I can't crush on him just the same.
What I love is the possibility of a truly dynamic midfielder to pair with Nabil Bentaleb, making our tandem a true pivot. While Ryan Mason has performed a new role admirably this year, he will never be accused of possessing elite defensive acumen. And why would we expect that? He is a converted attacker. Contrast this with Alli, who has been an out and out central midfielder his entire career.
He discussed as much in an interview with the FA's website after a Tuesday night match against Doncaster Rovers.
"When I was a bit younger I was playing defensive mid and I do like to do that, be we've got Darren Potter doing that job sitting between the centre-backs and midfield being the playmaker and starting things off
It doesn't matter to me, I don't mind playing that No.8 attacking role, but I feel I can do both, sitting and attacking."
And the effect he has on an attack is not theoretical. In Tuesday night's 3-0 victory for the Dons over Doncaster, Alli had two assists, as the club won for the fifth time, drawing the other, in the last six. Add in his penchant for goals (16 in league play) and Tottenham have a player accustomed to not only facilitating play, but creating end product. Before dismissing his accomplishments as a man playing among boys, remember he also missed six weeks recently with an injury. The numbers are staggering.
Pair this raw ability at a young age with the varied talents of Nabil Bentaleb and the midfield, while still making naive mistakes, will have a dynamism, skill set, and potential for growth that could be the envy of the Premier League. (At least until Chelsea buy Paul Pogba.)
Another reason to love him is his ability to take the increased attention in stride. The situation and elevated scrutiny do not appear to be overwhelming. His performances have not fallen off for Dons since his transfer, rather, his personal performances, as well as the team's, have surged. Plus, he is saying all the right things. Asked about his move to Spurs and the Premier League, he answered:
"It's a big step up and it's going to be a new challenge for me but I feel like I'm ready for it. I wouldn't say I'm nervous, I'd say I'm more excited," he said with a smile.
That smile at the end says it all. He is ready; he knows what Spurs need; he knows what he is, and he is ready to go.
I have been delusionally in love with our England U-19 midfielder since we bought him and this article has only increased the intensity. I wish he could suit up on Saturday.