Dele Alli shot through the English footballing consciousness like a bullet after Tottenham Hotspur signed him from MK Dons back in January of 2015 and debuted him against Manchester United in August. One of the side effects of Alli's meteoric rise to prominence is that Spurs are now linked to any number of teenage prodigies in waiting, talented youngsters plying their trade in the lower leagues of English football.
That's not exactly a bad thing! But it could turn out to be kind of annoying when it comes to reporting on transfer rumors, since when you're dealing with young players most of us have no clue who they are.
So today we're launching a new series called "Next Alli Watch" where we look at some of these youngsters as we're linked to them. Many of these are going to be #batcountry – wholly or mostly unsourced rumors that probably won't happen. A lot of these players are such that we have no actual idea of who they are or if they're any good. But hey, few of us knew who Dele Alli was either before we signed him, and look how that turned out!
We'll start off today with Philip Billing. Billing is a 19-year old central midfielder currently playing for Huddersfield Town in the English Championship. Billing has a Denmark U19 cap, and according to the Huddersfield Examiner, Tottenham are keeping a close eye on him thanks to scouting from Ian Broomfield.
A native of Denmark, Billing is a staple in Huddersfield's U21 squad, and has also made 12 appearances for the Terriers and seven starts, scoring one goal in a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest back in February. He's 6'5", a veritable "man mountain," and has some pretty impressive hair, so naturally everyone's going to compare him to Marouane Fellaini. Danish football blog bold.dk says, though, that he's closer to a Michael Ballack: big and strong, and technically quite skilled.
But does he play like Ballack? Can he press? Does he have the footwork to make it alongside Eric Dier? Dunno! But hey, there's video!
These kinds of highlight videos are always difficult to assess since we're dealing with not only Championship level football, but U21 Championship level football. The more physically developed footballers tend to look better to the untrained eye (of which I am most certainly one).
However, there's a couple things you can take away from this. First, Billing is seriously tall, and his height helps him be naturally dominant in the air. His height and stature also gives him that Peter-Crouch-running-with-the-ball loping gait that can look a little ungraceful. That said, he appears to have a good outside shot, and some decent speed and vision in this video, playing out of central midfield.
The #batcountry part of this, apart from this originating via a regional Huddersfield newspaper, comes from the fact that just last month he signed a new deal with Huddersfield that lasts through 2020. That's probably not going to keep him out of the clutches of any team that really wants him, but it might keep him from going to said club for cheap.
Again, I have absolutely no idea if Spurs are really interested in Billing. I have no reason to doubt that Spurs are scouting him, but as to the level of interest I simply have no clue. The idea of a 6'5" central midfielder makes my eyes bug out a little, but Billing is also young enough that he could be converted into another position without too much difficulty with enough training. Billing could be one of those diamonds in the rough that Spurs are becoming adept at ferreting out, though it looks as though it might be a while before we'd see him near the first team.