Dele joined Everton from Spurs in January but has found it difficult to get minutes and has only made nine appearances so far, all coming as a substitute
Image: Everton FC via Getty Images)
Frank Lampard has given an update on Dele Alli’s future at Everton and outlined what he needs to do to earn a place in Everton’s starting line-up.
The 26-year-old signed for the Toffees on deadline day in January in a unique deal that was initially free but could potentially rise to £40million depending on how many appearances he makes.
Since then, however, the gaming options have been few and far between. He has yet to start a game and has only come on nine times, most recently against Chelsea in early May.
When asked about the former England international on Friday afternoon, Lampard said: “I’ve had these conversations with him, he’ll be very clear about where I am and at the moment I’m much more worried about collective keeping as a group the line. If Dele plays his part in those three games then it’s great and he performs because he’s come on sometimes and he’s done good things for us.
It’s an area of the squad where we have other players that have played, that’s just the reality of the situation. He just has to keep training hard and stay really focused and fight for his chance.”
There was hope his move to Merseyside could reignite a career that began to wane shortly after Mauricio Pochettino’s departure in 2019. In the years that followed, under more restrictive tactical approaches from the likes of Jose Mourinho, Nuno Espirito Santo and more recently, Antonio Conte, Dele struggled.
Some of his troubles in recent seasons have been attributed to the mental aspects of his game, with each of the aforementioned managers not having the same experience managing men as Pochettino.
This is believed to be one of Lampard’s strengths and the Blues boss played a crucial role in Dele’s decision to go to Goodison Park in the first place.
Lampard is said to have spoken directly to Dele, advising him of his worth and declaring he could bring the best out of the attacker at Everton. But so far that has not been the case. In fact, the tactics used by Lampard have made it more difficult for Dele to find a consistent role in the squad.
Dele played best behind forwards and at the top end of his team’s attack, mostly as a number ten or second forward. Between 2016 and 2017 he scored 28 Premier League goals and recorded a further 16 league assists.
He loved picking up the ball in dangerous areas and his ability to thread passes into strikers’ feet was underestimated. Notably, in Pochettino’s last season, he trailed only behind Christian Eriksen at Spurs when it came to attempting the highest number of throughs per 90.
At the moment, however, Everton aren’t really playing with formations that allow for a number ten profile. Lampard has vacillated between a 4-3-3 or 3-4-3 in each of his last nine games, and when Dele made a rare appearance he often came in midfield. While competent in such a role, he doesn’t really excel at it, making it easy to see why he wasn’t doing enough in those moments to make a claim to start.
A glimmer of hope for the 26-year-old is that Everton are currently in survival mode. Lampard has sacrificed performance for results, which is understandable given their position in the table.
However, the former Chelsea midfielder has stated on more than one occasion that he has ambitions to play a more expansive game of football later on. This will suit Dele better and he could still become a key player at Goodison Park.