Dele Alli talks Spurs, Steven Gerrard comparisons, and his best position

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Dele Alli spoke exclusively to Patrick Davison ahead of Tottenham's clash with Bournemouth on Saturday, live on Sky Sports

Ahead of Tottenham v Bournemouth, live on Sky Sports on Saturday, Patrick Davison sits down with Dele Alli to discuss his impressive form, his best position and comparisons with Steven Gerrard...

It's now nearly five years since he did it for the first time.

His full professional debut was the occasion, the FA Cup the competition, 16 years and 216 days his (precise) age.

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In a manner with which we have now become accustomed, Dele Alli strode onto the ball about 30 yards out and, with one effortless swing of his right foot, smashed the ball into the top corner of the Cambridge City net.

"A lot of my team-mates were surprised I could even kick it that far," he says, watching the goal back on a giant screen we've set up for our interview.

"Coming from Milton Keynes, watching them, being a ball boy for them and coming through the academy - scoring that goal was unreal.

"At school the next day, I felt like a little celebrity. Some kids were MK fans and a couple of them wanted me to sign some stuff - it took my attention off maths."

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Since then, for MK Dons, Tottenham and England, he has racked up another half century of goals before turning 21 earlier this week.

Many, like last weekend's against Watford, as spectacular as his first (some, like his best at Palace, even more so) but there's been all sorts.

Goals with both feet, with the outside of the foot, headers, penalties, tap-ins and volleys. But why is he a 'natural' finisher? How does he 'ghost' into the box seemingly unnoticed? What is it about him that means he has this 'knack' of being in the right place at the right time?

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Goalscorers often struggle to explain the mysterious art they have mastered. But sat down earlier this week, Alli got about as close as I've heard anyone to explaining its secrets.

"Especially in the Premier League, defenders are really switched on, so you almost have to fool them (with your movement) into thinking you're doing something else.

"For example, Chris (Eriksen) likes one where he puts a bit of whip on it so I look to check back out and the defender still thinks I'm stood next to them.

"That sort of movement starts happening naturally but you do have to think about it a bit."

I'm definitely a midfielder. When I start playing up top I don't feel comfortable.
Dele Alli

He works hard at his movement. The same preparation goes into every part of his finishing.

"Every keeper is different, so you do your research on them and the goalkeeper coach here (Toni Jiminez) is unbelievable at that, he's always getting it right. If they come out big, if they come out and look for the low ones early, so you can put it over them - there's different finishes for different keepers."

The hard work is paying off, he's gone from a midfielder with an eye for a goal to a player within sight of 20 for the season.

His position, of course, is a big part of that. He was a number 'six or eight' when he first broke through at MK Dons but, since his first few months at White Hart Lane, has been used as a number 10 by Mauricio Pochettino.

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When Spurs play 3-4-2-1 he seems to play even further forward. Pundits have even begun to debate if he's still a midfielder.

"I'm definitely a midfielder," is his quick, definite response when I ask. "When I start playing up top where H (Harry Kane) plays I don't feel comfortable.

"I grew up watching Steven Gerrard a lot and he was a number eight so I'd like to play there but when competition is like it is you play anywhere the manager wants you to. And I can't complain, I'm really am happy where I'm playing.

"The formation we were playing with three at the back gave me a bit more freedom and the chance to get more goals. Sometimes I have to make runs to get in behind H and give him a bit more room to get shots off and stuff like that. But, as I say, I'm definitely a midfielder."

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Former Tottenham midfielder Paul Walsh says Dele Alli has 'world-class' abilities

His best position may be up for discussion, his impact on games isn't. Goals and assists combined he's directly involved in Tottenham scoring 40 times since his first Premier League last season.

It's more than Gerrard, Frank Lampard or Paul Scholes had managed at this stage of their careers. The comparisons may be slightly misleading; Gerrard for example was a defensive midfielder at that stage of his career, but they are still being made.

Alli, as you'd expect, says there's a long way to go.

"It's an honour to be put next to those names but I've still got so much to achieve before I can even start thinking I'm as good as them.

"They all did so much for their clubs and their country, I think they're unbelievable players. For me they're legends and people I look up to massively, so I don't get carried away with those stats."

He won't get carried away, but we can. No one knows how good he's going to be, but it should be fun finding out.

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