After a lengthy spell lout injured it looks as though Dele Alli is nearing fitness again. His return to the first-team squad could offer the Everton boss with a new attacking option.
Ever since he joined the Toffees on deadline day at the end of January 2022 as Frank Lampard’s first major signing just hours after he became the club’s new manager, he has flattered to deceive.
Apart from one or two brief cameos in an Everton shirt, supporters have seen nothing of the talent and game-changing inpact Dele was capable of.
Those performances at one time made him one of the hottest properties in European football and he has played in World Cups and the Champions League giving him experience that no other Blues players have.
After failing to find a place under Lampard, he eventually left the club and moved to Turkish football in search of game-time and in an effort to rediscover his hunger for the game.
The former MK Dons youngster had seemed to seriously lose his way in the last few years he spent in North London before leaving for Goodison Park.
However, he failed to make much impact at all in Turkey and then got injured, which combined with his failure to produce past form meant his loan was brought to a premature close.
Dele returned to England to complete his recouperation and has recently been doing warm weather training in the Middle East.
The first thing to say is that Dele hasn’t been anywhere close to his past form with club or country for a very long time and there is no reason to suppose he will necessarily return to it now.
But, if the former Spurs and England star was able to find a way to rediscover something like that level of performance it could help Everton significantly.
While there have been plenty of indications that perhaps at last the Toffees have turned a corner under Sean Dyche, the season will still likely be a long hard slog to ensure there will not be another relegation fight.
One of the continuing issues with a team that has certainly improved it’s attacking potency, is the lack of ball carriers from midfield.
This problem has been made considerably worse by the exit of Alex Iwobi who was sold to Fulham on deadline day last summer. For all his failings he gave his manager that option.
At times still, Everton’s forwards lack adequate support and while Dyche has been mainly using Abdoulaye Doucoure as a kind of number ten to try and link midfield with the attack, it doesn’t always work.
While I very much doubt he would necessarily start, a rejuvenated Dele could offer Dyche a valuable alternative from the bench.
There is a major problem though and that is the transfer deal agreed with Spurs when he joined the Blues.
It was structured to mean Everton wouldn’t have to pay a major fee unless he had played a certain number of games, so helping the club get around FFP restrictions. At least that was the idea!
In the end it is all down to the player himself. Dele has to show he has the desire and capability to regain his past standards and then give Dyche a decision to make.