Dele Alli is considered to be one of the best youngsters in world football right now and, as such, it seems a given that he needs to make his presence known on the global stage this summer at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
It is odd to still think of Alli as such a newcomer to the game at just 21, because he has already made a significant impact during his professional career. For both Tottenham Hotspur and England, he has been able to showcase his all-round ability and, given his age, the intelligence that he has been able to show on the pitch is extraordinary.
The World Cup is useful for youngsters who want to gain more experience at international level but, given how advanced Alli is already, that should not even play a factor. The Tottenham star is going to be viewed as one of England’s key men, as opposed to just being a dark horse like at the Euros, and he needs to prove he can handle that kind of pressure.
All you need to do is examine the career trajectories of Harry Kane and Lionel Messi for comparison. Both men are at the top of their respective games, but their shortcomings for Argentina and England respectively have left a black mark on their records up to this point.
Every World Cup features a star breaking through into the limelight, such as Thomas Muller and James Rodriguez in recent years and, if Alli ever wants to take himself to the next level, then this is the stage on which to do it.
There is very little pressure on the England national team going into this tournament because, unlike other years, the expectations are relatively small. Because of that, Alli should see this as an ‘all or nothing’ opportunity, where he can play at his own pace and control the tempo in what should be a very winnable group for Gareth Southgate’s men.
The Tottenham youngster is already a hot commodity, but this is the first time fans are really going to see what he is made of alongside the world’s elite.