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Fear not Tottenham Hotspur fans – Dele Alli is in it for the long-haul and wants to make a name for himself as a Spurs great, according to club legend Gary Mabbutt.

Alli, who only turned 21 three months ago, has been linked with moves to some of the biggest clubs in the world, including both Barcelona and Real Madrid, and it is no surprise given his rapid rise from League One with MK Dons to the UEFA Champions League and international football in two whirlwind seasons in North London.

Only this week he was named as the most valuable player under-21 in Prime Time Sport's annual study of the game's best players. Alli was top of the list with a transfer valuation of £74m, ahead of Arsenal transfer target Kylian Mbappé and Ousmane Dembélé of Borussia Dortmund. Not bad for a kid signed for £5m in January 2015.

And having been voted the PFA's Young player for a second time, after 18 Premier League goals last season, Alli's stock is rising all the time.

But Spurs insider Mabbutt, who knows the youngster well, says he is in no hurry to move. The former captain spent 16 years as a player at White Hart Lane, making over 600 appearances. Since then he has been an ambassador for Tottenham, and knows the club inside out.

He says: “I've seen him growing in stature over the past couple of seasons, and when you look at his all-round abilities, I think he can become the complete midfield player.


Gary Mabbutt Kyle Walker, Harry Kane, Dele Alli… by FootballWhispers

“I was lucky enough to present him with the Young Player of the Year award last season, and he's a very down to earth young chap. You can see that he wants to make a name for himself at Tottenham. There is a lot more to come from him because he is still young.”

Having played alongside some of the midfield greats at Spurs, including Glenn Hoddle, Ossie Ardiles and Paul Gascoigne, Mabbutt says Alli is not far from joining the level of those legends.

“Everyone talks about the players we have had in the past, particularly the midfield maestros, and Dele certainly has the potential to be up there with those players. You can see his ability in training and matches, the qualities he has.”

One area of concern is the youngster's tendency to retaliate or lose his head on occasions, one of which led to a red card against Gent last season, meaning he will miss Tottenham's first three Champions League games this time. Is that a worry for Mabbutt, who is still close to Gazza?

“People talk about him getting caught up sometimes in the slight affrays that happen in matches, and whether that is a concern – I would say ‘not at all'. He has to learn to control things, he has to learn that when he is being kicked and pushed all over the place, or gets brought down, he has to get up and get on with the game. I think he is learning that.

“Unfortunately if you get embroiled in those situations, you are going to come off second best, and with someone of Dele's quality, that is not going to be for him. He's young and learning all the time, and I think he appreciates that with things that have happened in the past, he wants to make sure they don't happen again.

And when Spurs fans put up the names of all those midfield maestros, he'll be up in that list.”

Mabbutt is famous for making it as a top professional footballer with Spurs and England despite being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes as a teenager, and has just recently recovered from successful heart bypass surgery.

But he never misses a game at White Hart Lane and will be at Wembley as Spurs move into their temporary home next season. And he does not share the fears of many that Wembley will prove to be Tottenham's undoing, after their dismal run in the Champions League last season and losing so many cup semi-finals over the past few years.

“People talk about a jinx at Wembley but I think that is nonsense,” he says. “To play in front of 80,000 Spurs fans at the national stadium every home game is a real positive.

“Last year we were playing there every six weeks or so, but now it is going to be our home ground and we'll play every couple of weeks. More importantly, Spurs have the quality in the squad to put in a sustained challenge on the major titles this season.”

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