Former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli has walked a rocky road. After languishing through a number of managerial changes at Spurs, he transferred to Everton in an attempt to reignite his once-promising career. Unfortunately, his struggles didn’t stop at Everton, and the truth came to light last year as Dele showed incredible bravery and vulnerability, opening up in an interview with Gary Neville about how he had suffered childhood abuse, depression, and struggled with an addiction to sleeping pills.
After some time away from the game and a stint in rehab, Dele is keen to get back onto the football pitch; but there’s a problem with that. As part of the transfer to Everton, the Toffees agreed a fee based on appearances with Spurs... and Everton are flat broke.
Chris Bascombe, Merseyside reporter at The Telegraph, has more:
For those unaware, Everton are in dire financial straits. Owner Farhad Moshiri had previously invested much of his own capital into the Merseyside football club, which he has since halted, looking for a sale. This has caused problems with Everton’s cashflow and their debt to skyrocket, making huge losses as they’ve tried to keep afloat. These losses were exacerbated further by the COVID-19 pandemic, as Everton’s incomings dwindled. Moshiri’s prior investment also carries additional complexity and controversy, as recent reports highlighted Moshiri’s links to Russian oligarch Alexei Usmanov, subject of UK financial sanctions due to the war in Ukraine.
In short: Everton have no money, huge amounts of debt, and are now facing a 12-point deduction due to falling afoul of FFP rules.
What does this mean for Dele?
Well, Everton agreed to a £10 million fee for Dele once the midfielder reached 20 appearances for the Toffees, with the former England star currently at 13 appearances; and those are £10 million that Everton do not have. This means the club is motivated to keep Dele off the pitch so they do not need to pay the appearance clause.
At the same time however, Everton are facing a relegation battle and need all hands on deck. Everton manager Sean Dyche is a fan of Dele, and wants to see him back on the pitch helping them in that fight. As a result, Everton’s Director of Football Kevin Thelwell has been on the phone to Daniel Levy to try renegotiate the fee.
From a purely financial standpoint, Daniel Levy has every right to tell “Kev” to pound sand; but things aren’t that simple. Tottenham are in a very healthy position financially, and can probably afford a £10 million hit (though it’s not nothing); and Dele Alli is a man who gave a lot to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club over a number of years as he struggled both privately and publicly with personal demons. With that in mind, if Dele’s mental wellbeing is a priority to the Tottenham Hotspur hierarchy, and him back playing football would contribute positively to that end, it could make sense for Spurs to just waive the fee.
That said, there’s probably a middle ground here. Other options will be on the table, such as a sell-on fee for Dele; and there’s also the fact that Spurs will still be paying off a sizable transfer fee to Everton for Richarlison, so it’s possible some of that debt could be knocked off or renegotiated.
Whatever happens, Dele deserves happiness and peace, and is an absolute thrill to watch when he’s fit and healthy. That’s what I want to see; and however this plays out, I hope that’s what the clubs want as well.