Manchester United are reportedly set to finally make another signing with the arrival of Edinson Cavani.

Cavani, 33, has been a free agent since leaving Paris Saint-Germain at the end of his contract in June.

Linked with numerous clubs, the Uruguayan appears set for Old Trafford.

 

TOP STORY – CAVANI AGREES TO JOIN MAN UTD

Cavani is set to travel to England on Sunday to complete his move to Manchester United, according to The Guardian.

Widespread reports say Cavani will join United on a one-year deal with the option of extending until 2022.

Cavani scored 200 goals across seven seasons at PSG, becoming the Ligue 1 club's all-time leading goalscorer.

ROUND-UP

- Callum Hudson-Odoi's future looks set to be a major talking point before the transfer window closes on Monday. The Daily Mail reports Chelsea turned down an offer for Hudson-Odoi from Bayern Munich, who are said to have initially wanted the attacker on loan with an option to buy for €77.3million (£70m).

- Elsewhere in London, Dele Alli's future at Tottenham remains uncertain. The Daily Mail says Spurs are expecting another bid from PSG for the midfielder after having two offers rejected. Staying at Spurs and The Athletic reports they have reached an agreement with Hoffenheim to loan out Ryan Sessegnon for the 2020-21 season.

- It seems Arsenal have fallen short in their bid to sign Lyon star Houssem Aouar. Goal reports the 22-year-old is planning to stay at the Ligue 1 club despite apparent interest from Arsenal, Manchester City and Real Madrid.

- Arsenal may look elsewhere. ESPN reports Arsenal have turned their focus to Chelsea midfielder Jorginho, who they hope to sign on loan.

- Chelsea could be looking for others to leave too. The Sun reports the Premier League club want to see Ruben Loftus-Cheek depart on loan, with Southampton linked with the midfielder.

- Moise Kean may be heading back to Juventus. Corriere dello Sport says Juve want the Everton forward on a free loan with a purchase option, while the Premier League high-flyers are hoping to get back the €27.5million (£24.9m) plus €2.5m (£2.3m) in add-ons they paid for the 20-year-old last year.

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly pushing to land Dele Alli, while they may also challenge Arsenal for Houssem Aouar.

Struggling for game time at Tottenham, Alli was on the scoresheet in Thursday's Europa League thrashing of Maccabi Haifa.

But the midfielder may yet depart the Premier League club.

 

TOP STORY – PSG PUSH FOR ALLI

Paris Saint-Germain have made a push to sign Alli on loan before the transfer deadline on Monday, according to The Telegraph.

Alli has only made three appearances this season, including just 46 minutes in the Premier League.

The 24-year-old England international has been at Spurs since 2015.

ROUND-UP

- Uncertainty remains over Aouar's future at Lyon. Fabrizio Romano reports Arsenal are still in talks but are yet to reach an agreement with Lyon, while L'Equipe says PSG are also interested.

- Could Antonio Conte and Marcos Alonso reunite at Inter? CalcioMercato claims Inter are interested in signing the Chelsea left-back, who worked with Conte at Stamford Bridge.

- Roma are yet to find a deal to sign Chris Smalling. Fabrizio Romano reports the Serie A club will make a new bid for the Manchester United defender, who impressed on loan at Roma in 2019-20.

- Tiemoue Bakayoko could be set for a move from Chelsea. Gianluca Di Marzio says Napoli are eyeing the midfielder, who has been on loan at Milan and Monaco in the past two seasons.

- As their tough window continues, Manchester United could be getting closer to a signing. Sport 890 reports the Premier League club are set to make a move for Penarol's 18-year-old attacker Facundo Pellistri.

Tottenham booked their spot in the Europa League group stages after Harry Kane's hat-trick helped them to a thumping 7-2 win over Maccabi Haifa on Thursday.  

Playing their third game in just five days, only Toby Alderweireld and Steven Bergwijn kept their places in the starting XI from the side that beat Chelsea in the EFL Cup on Tuesday. 

Tjaronn Chery's wonderful long-range strike cancelled out Kane's second-minute opener but a Lucas Moura header and two goals from Giovani Lo Celso effectively put the game to bed by half-time.  

Nikita Rukavytsya and Kane exchanged goals from the penalty spot shortly after the interval before the England captain's third, plus a late Dele Alli penalty, ensured Spurs booked their place in Friday's draw. 

Jose Mourinho's men started in blistering fashion, taking the lead after just 92 seconds when an unmarked Kane turned home Ben Davies' cross from four yards.  

The visitors responded superbly to that early setback and grabbed a deserved equaliser after 17 minutes, Chery thundering into Joe Hart's top corner.  

Their joy was short-lived, however, as Lucas rose highest at the near post to flick Bergwijn's corner past Josh Cohen for his second goal of the season three minutes later.  

Lo Celso then scored twice in the space of three minutes before the break, first whipping inside Cohen's right-hand post from 12 yards and then lifting over the beleaguered goalkeeper from close range after being found by Kane.  

Rukavytsya pulled one back for the visitors in the 52nd minute after Matt Doherty was penalised for handling inside the area, although Kane restored Spurs' advantage four minutes later after Ernest Mabouka had been adjudged to have blocked Davies' cross with his arm. 

Kane then completed his hat-trick in the 74th minute, clipping over Cohen after wonderful work down the left from the impressive Bergwijn, before substitute Alli slotted home a stoppage-time penalty after an audacious piece of skill drew a foul from Bogdan Planic.


 

Jose Mourinho says it is "possible" Dele Alli makes a return to the Tottenham team for their home Europa League play-off tie against Maccabi Haifa.

England playmaker Alli has been left out of the Spurs squad for three consecutive matches and linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain ahead of Monday's transfer deadline.

Mourinho has been delighted by the way the 24-year-old has handled recent adversity and did not rule out him being handed a comeback for Thursday's home match.

"I cannot confirm Dele's playing but I cannot confirm he's not playing," Spurs boss Mourinho said at his pre-match news conference.

"We have still training sessions [on Wednesday], we have still decisions to make

"The only thing I can say is he's being very, very professional. I have only respect for him.

"He's being very professional, particularly [on Tuesday] when the team was preparing for the [Chelsea] game and he wasn't.

"It would be perfectly acceptable to have a lack of motivation, even a lack of professionalism for this training session but it was exactly the opposite.

"He trained very hard. He has my respect and the respect of his team-mates so it's possible he plays [on Thursday]."

In an optimistic update on injuries, Mourinho suggested forward Son Heung-min had an outside chance of being fit to make a surprise return against Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday.

He also revealed Gareth Bale is progressing well in his bid to reach full fitness following his loan arrival from Real Madrid.

Mourinho said: "Sonny of course is not playing [Thursday], is a big doubt for Sunday but I don't want to say he's not going to play because maybe he does and then my position is not good.

"Bale cannot play [Thursday] or even on the weekend, that I can confirm. He is working very hard, very committed, very professional, very happy but not yet [ready].

"I believe the two weeks of internationals can be important for his last phase of his recovering and fitness, hopefully to play when we come back for the weekend after the national teams."

Amid a frantic run of fixtures, Mourinho acknowledged the importance of reaching the Europa League group stage.

The Portuguese added: "These knockout matches are very dangerous, because they are only one leg - very, very dangerous.

"We felt the fear in Bulgaria and we have to make sure we win it [on Thursday]. One match, at home, away goals are not important. Penalties only after 30 minutes extra.

"We have to do everything to try and win it because it is very important for us on a sports level but also an economical level."

Jose Mourinho has reiterated Tottenham remain keen on making even more additions to their squad in this transfer window.

Spurs have so far brought in four new players, having last week added Real Madrid pair Sergio Reguilon and Gareth Bale to a group that had already been bolstered by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Matt Doherty.

Inter's Milan Skriniar and Southampton's Danny Ings have also been linked to the north London club as Mourinho targets both a centre-back and a central striker that can deputise for Harry Kane.

"The market is open, we have a good squad," Mourinho told reporters.

"Can we have a better squad than we have now? Yes, we can. Is the club trying to build that balanced squad that we all want? Yes, we are trying. Let’s see if that’s possible."

That squad tinkering could include departures too, though.

Dele Alli's Tottenham future looks bleak after he was left out of the squad to face Southampton at the weekend having been hauled off at half-time in the loss to Everton.

Mourinho excluded the England international on that occasion because he felt he had too many attacking options, and he took the 24-year-old off on Thursday for Kane shortly after Shkendija had equalised in their Europa League tie.

Tottenham went on to win 3-1, and though Mourinho did not single out Alli for criticism, he bemoaned the entire team's display before Kane's introduction.

"The team didn't play very well, as a team," the Portuguese said.

"It's hard to individualise, it's hard to say player A, B or C when the reality is that the team didn't play very well.

"For the last 30 minutes, the team played well. We used the wings, we had occupation in the box, we had Harry not losing the ball, dropping back and linking the play. The team improved a lot in the last 30 minutes."

One man who does appear to have convinced Mourinho he is worthy of a starting spot moving forward is record signing Tanguy Ndombele.

The Frenchman was taken off at half-time against Southampton - when he was making his first start since March - but lasted 90 minutes on Thursday and earned Mourinho's praise.

"He played very well," Mourinho said of Ndombele.

"I don't have the data in my hands but I imagine our percentage of the ball was very high and when it is high he feels much more comfortable. But even without the ball he had good recovery, duels, defensive transition, it was a very positive game from Tanguy, really happy.

"Can he play on Sunday [against Newcastle United]? I’m not sure. We have to see how he reacts and recovers from it but we have so many matches coming that if a player is not able to play in the next match then he will be able to play in the next one."

Tottenham again made hard work of Europa League progress as a scrappy 3-1 win at Shkendija took Jose Mourinho's men into the play-off round.

Spurs had survived a major scare in the previous qualifying stage last week, coming from behind to beat nine-man Lokomotiv Plovdiv with two late goals in Bulgaria.

And the trip to North Macedonia threatened to prove similarly troublesome when Valmir Nafiu cancelled out Erik Lamela's fifth-minute strike.

A visiting team including debutant Joe Hart and the returning Dele Alli toiled for a time until Son Heung-min - fresh from a four-goal salvo at Southampton - restored the lead and then turned provider for Harry Kane, whose goal ensured a play-off with Maccabi Haifa.

Lamela's opener looked to have teed up a straightforward evening for Tottenham, found completely free by Son on the right side of the area to slide a calm finish inside the bottom-left corner.

Spurs dominated but did not threaten again until Toby Alderweireld headed narrowly wide in the 26th minute, with Kostadin Zahov then saving Alli's scruffy eight-yard effort.

Further Tottenham openings followed in the second half without causing Zahov undue concern and Shkendija were level against the run of play after 55 minutes.

Ljupco Doriev fizzed a pass right to Nafiu, who arrowed a sensational effort high past Hart into the top-right corner.

Kane, Giovani Lo Celso and then Lucas Moura were called from the Spurs bench, yet the England captain followed Lamela in squandering a big headed chance with the goal gaping.

Son was clinical when his chance came, though, controlling as Zahov parried Lucas' shot and firing into the roof of the net.


What does it mean? Spurs forced to turn to stars

Having repeatedly bemoaned Tottenham's tough schedule, Mourinho would have been frustrated to see a team missing Kane, Lo Celso and Lucas fail to get the job done.

He was therefore forced to call on the rested trio just three days before the visit of Newcastle United. It paid dividends, but the starting XI - Son apart - did themselves and their coach few favours.

Son the Spurs star

Given the focus Mourinho is placing on the Europa League, Son's display here might even be considered more important than his stunning performance against Southampton.

His poise in the area had already prompted the breakthrough goal for Lamela, but two more telling contributions were required in the final 20 minutes to advance. The winger created four chances in all.

Dele disappoints

Mourinho said this week Alli - back in action for the first time since his half-time substitution in the defeat to Everton - held "99 per cent" of the responsibility for the improvement he required.

The coach did not appear overly enthused by this display, expressing his frustration with Alli on a couple of occasions, as the midfielder missed a big first-half chance and won just one of his six duels while failing to register a tackle or interception before he was replaced by Kane.

What's next?

Spurs must now travel back to London ahead of hosting Newcastle at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday.

Kane created each of Son's four goals in their previous Premier League game, but the roles were reversed as Tottenham made sure of their place in the next round, a cross from the left met with a firm downward header.

Dele Alli is set to stay at Tottenham and will get his chance in the Europa League qualifier against Shkendija but must now perform, says coach Jose Mourinho.

England international Alli has not featured since he was substituted at half-time of Spurs' Premier League opener at home to Everton, a 1-0 defeat.

Alli, who scored nine goals in 38 games in all competitions last season, did not even make the bench for subsequent victories over Lokomotiv Plovdiv and Southampton.

The 24-year-old's future has appeared uncertain as links to Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain emerged while Mourinho offered no assurances.

Spurs will soon welcome Gareth Bale into the group as he recovers from injury amid his return to the club from Madrid, but Alli first has an opportunity to impress in North Macedonia on Thursday.

"Dele Alli will make the trip," Mourinho told a news conference ahead of the third qualifying round match. "I always said that Dele will have a chance. He's coming.

"He'll have a chance to perform and it's important that he does. It's important that every player does."

Mourinho does not expect Alli to leave but insists it is up to the player to improve.

"I see him staying," the coach added. "There is a tendency now, when a player performs or doesn't perform, to give responsibility to the coach because they gave him the right stick or didn't.

"I always feel that 99 per cent of the responsibility is the player. I, and the staff who work with the player, have one per cent."

Will Manchester City finally land Kalidou Koulibaly?

Pep Guardiola's City want defensive reinforcements and Napoli centre-back Koulibaly is reportedly at the top of the list.

If they are unsuccessful, Sevilla's Jules Kounde is next on the list.

 

TOP STORY – CITY NOT GIVING UP KOULIBALY

Manchester City are still in talks with Napoli to sign star defender Kalidou Koulibaly, according to journalist Fabrizio Romano.

City have been tipped to sign Koulibaly, who has also been linked to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

However, City are yet to reach an agreement with Napoli and Sevilla's Jules Kounde is the "backup option" but a bid has already been turned down.

 

ROUND-UP

- Romano says Wolves will complete the signing of Barcelona full-back Nelson Semedo on Monday. It comes as Barca eye Ajax defender Sergino Dest or Real Betis' Emerson to replace Semedo. Norwich City's Max Aarons has also been linked.

Milan have made Fiorentina's Nikola Milenkovic their number one defensive target ahead of Celtic centre-back Kristoffer Ajer, reports the Daily Record.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus are eyeing Real Madrid full-back Marcelo. The Brazilian has been repeatedly linked with a Cristiano Ronaldo reunion in Turin.

- The Telegraph says PSG are interested in Tottenham's Dele Alli. Out of favour under Jose Mourinho, Spurs are reportedly targeting Manchester United's Jesse Lingard as a replacement.

Roma remain interested in Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik but Madrid outcast Luka Jovic has emerged as 'Plan B', according to Calciomercato.

Leeds United are out of the race to sign Dinamo Zagreb sensation Josko Gvardiol, reports Romano. Wanted by Marcelo Bielsa, the Croatian teenager is now set for Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig.

Jose Mourinho has offered no assurances about the future of Dele Alli after the Tottenham midfielder was linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Alli was left out of the Spurs squad on Sunday, when a Son Heung-min and Harry Kane-inspired Tottenham came from behind to beat Southampton 5-2, with Mourinho explaining his absence was a tactical decision because he had too many players in his position.

The England international, 24, started against Everton in Spurs' Premier League opener but was replaced at half-time and did not travel to Bulgaria in midweek for their Europa League qualifier against Lokomotiv Plovdiv.

Given Gareth Bale has been added to Mourinho's attacking options this weekend, the outlook is unlikely to get any better for Alli, who is said to be of interest to Champions League finalists PSG.

Asked whether Alli would be leaving the club, Mourinho told reporters: "I'm not responsible for the [transfer] market.

"I don't know how to answer your question in relation to that. The only thing I can say is that I left eight players behind. They stayed and trained this morning because they are a big group and Dele is amongst these players.

"You could see our team. I cannot start with all of them and I cannot have a bench without defenders or midfielders. In the same way the squad is a puzzle, the bench is also a little puzzle.

"So to have on the bench Toby [Alderweireld] and Serge [Aurier], and Moussa [Sissoko] and Gio [Lo Celso], and [Erik] Lamela, and [Steven] Bergwijn. I cannot have on the bench four wingers or three wingers and a number 10, and then no defenders.

"Everything is a puzzle so in these matches that he stayed out, probably Tuesday he will play [in the EFL Cup against Leyton Orient] and others he will stay out."

Asked if he wanted to keep Alli, Mourinho replied: "I want a balanced squad, that's what I want.

"No, he doesn't need to be sacrificed, but the squad is a puzzle."

Spurs, for whom Son scored four against Southampton, signed Bale on loan from Real Madrid on Saturday and also added left-back Sergio Reguilon from LaLiga's champions after he impressed on loan with Sevilla last term.

"A coach always likes to have the best players in his squad," Mourinho added.

"Gareth, when fit and in condition, is one of the top players in Europe, and Sergio was amazing last season in Sevilla."

Dele Alli was left out of Tottenham's matchday squad to face Southampton on Sunday, with Jose Mourinho admitting he was simply down the pecking order in his attacking options.

Alli was hauled off at half-time of Spurs' season-opening 1-0 loss to Everton last weekend and was left at home when Mourinho's men travelled to Bulgaria in midweek for their Europa League tie against Lokomotiv Plovdiv.

And there was still no way back for the England international at St Mary's, where Mourinho handed a start to Tanguy Ndombele in midfield and persisted with a front three of Lucas Moura, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.

Giovani Lo Celso, Moussa Sissoko, Erik Lamela and Steven Bergwijn were all on the bench and Mourinho explained Alli - who was linked with Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday - was a victim of what he feels is a bloated squad.

Asked if Alli had an injury, Mourinho told BT Sport before kick-off: "No, we have a huge squad, a squad with numbers that are very difficult to manage.

"I never had it, I don't like to have it and it's not easy for me to be here with 18 players and to have 10 training in the training ground - too many players.

"I start with Son, with Lucas, with Harry and on the bench I still have Moussa Sissoko and Lamela and Bergwijn.

"We have too many players for some positions and some of them they are paying the price of this."

The outlook is unlikely to get any better for Alli after Gareth Bale returned to the club on a loan deal from Real Madrid on Saturday, though the Wales forward is currently injured.

Following kick-off in Sunday's clash, reports subsequently emerged that Paris Saint-Germain had started talks with Spurs over signing the 24-year-old.

Alli started the Mourinho era in fine form when the Portuguese arrived in November, scoring four times and providing two assists in his first seven league appearances under the Spurs boss.

Yet he scored just twice after Boxing Day and was not named in England's squad for the recent Nations League games against Iceland and Denmark.

It has been a fall from grace for Alli, who Mourinho's predecessor Mauricio Pochettino called the best player in the world for his age just two years ago.

Jose Mourinho insisted there is "no story" over his decision to substitute Dele Alli at half-time during Tottenham's defeat to Everton.

Spurs started their Premier League campaign in disappointing fashion on Sunday, going down to Dominic Calvert-Lewin's header in a 1-0 home defeat.

Alli, who saw an effort saved by England team-mate Jordan Pickford during the first half, only featured for the opening 45 minutes before being replaced by Moussa Sissoko.

However, Mourinho was adamant the decision was made with the team in mind and has no reflection on his relationship with Alli.

"The change at half-time was not the first time in my career, won't be the last time," Mourinho told a news conference on Wednesday.

"The last one was with Eric Dier against Olympiacos when I took him off after 25 or 30 minutes. When I do these kinds of things, I always do it for the team, not against the player.

"In some cases, the option was proven right, in some other cases proven wrong. In this case, it didn't work. The team in the second half was not better than the first half.

"That's my job to make decisions to try to make the best for the team when I am not happy with the performance. There is no story.

"Dele is a very polite guy. Very calm. I think he's a bit introspective, when you think a lot about things. So I think the way he reacted was [like] Dele.

"He was quiet, was sad but in the end after the game he was just one of many. But again, I repeat, he's a good boy. Very, very polite. Good boy, really good boy."

Dier was the subject of an early change in Mourinho's first home game in charge of Spurs against Olympiacos last year, and the 26-year-old dismissed the suggestion Alli would be negatively affected by the decision.

"He took me off after 30 minutes, even worse!" Dier told reporters. "I think Dele is fine. We're big boys.

"Football is not a nice world, it's all about results and performances. Dele is not the first to be taken off at half-time. That's a thing that can happen.

"If you want to be a big club or a big player, it's about the way you react and move forward. Knowing Dele and his mentality, he'll work even harder and try to push on."

Reports on Tuesday suggested Alli could be used as a potential makeweight in a deal to bring Gareth Bale back to Spurs from Real Madrid.

Negotiations between Tottenham and Madrid are ongoing, though Bale's agent Jonathan Barnett refused to confirm to Stats Perform News if a deal was close.

Could Tottenham and Gareth Bale reunite?

Bale, who left Tottenham for Real Madrid in 2013, is not wanted in the Spanish capital.

While Manchester Untied are reportedly interested, former club Spurs are Bale's preference.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS LEAD BALE RACE

Tottenham are ahead of Premier League rivals Manchester United in the pursuit of Real Madrid outcast Gareth Bale, according to ESPN.

Bale has reportedly been told he can leave Madrid after falling out of favour with head coach Zinedine Zidane.

The Welshman wants to return to former club Tottenham after leaving Spurs for Madrid in 2013 and the Telegraph claims Dele Alli could be included in a deal to bring Bale back to London.

While United's interest is believed to be serious, it all depends on whether they are able to sign number one target and Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Transfer Podcast reports United believe that if they leave final negotiations for Sancho until the last week of the transfer window, Dortmund will eventually cave in and sell the England international. Dortmund have refused to budge on their €120million (£108m) valuation.

- The Mirror claims Arsenal are close to offloading unwanted trio Sead Kolasinac, Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira. Kolasinac has been linked to West Ham, Valencia are considering Guendouzi and Torreira has been tipped to join Torino. The Gunners want to keep full-back Hector Bellerin but he may be sold to Paris Saint-Germain.

Roma are poised to sign Juventus full-back Mattia De Sciglio, reports Fabrizio Romano. It comes as Juve close in on Roma striker Edin Dzeko, while Roma Press says the latter are set to complete the capture of Hellas Verona defender Marash Kumbulla. He had been linked to Inter, Lazio and Juve.

-  Luis Suarez's move to Juve has collapsed, says RAC1. The Barcelona veteran had been tipped to leave Camp Nou for Turin but a delay in an Italian citizenship test has reportedly scuppered the deal. Atletico Madrid are now an option for the Uruguayan.

- The Mail claims Bayern Munich are ready to renew their interest in Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi. The Englishman was linked to Bayern last year before opting to sign a new deal. Now, Hudson-Odoi could swap London for Munich before the October 5 deadline, with Juve also reportedly eyeing the Chelsea star.

- Diario AS reports Turkish giants Fenerbahce are eyeing Atletico's Diego Costa. Fenerbahce just sold striker Vedat Muriqi to Lazio and may use the transfer funds to bring Costa to Istanbul.

United had been favourites to land Sergio Reguilon from Madrid but the Telegraph and widespread reports say Tottenham are poised to sign the Spanish full-back. United have been reluctant to include a buy-back clause in any deal with Madrid.

- According to Sport Bild, Liverpool have contacted Bayern regarding Thiago Alcantara but the asking price is too high. United and Barca are also reportedly interested.

Dele Alli should be approaching his peak years but the Tottenham midfielder appears to be in stark decline.

From his Spurs debut back in August 2015, the midfielder's trajectory was initially impressive as he quickly adapted to the big step up from MK Dons.

An England debut soon followed and the youngster apparently had the world at his feet.

Fast forward to the opening game of Spurs' 2020-21 Premier League campaign on Sunday, when Alli was hooked by Jose Mourinho at half-time of a limp 1-0 loss to Everton, and the outlook is markedly different.

Alli has stagnated, perhaps even regressed, with any hope that the new campaign would herald a fresh start quick to evaporate. 

So just how far below his high-water mark has the 24-year-old fallen? The Opta numbers tell the story...

GOALS HARDER TO COME BY

To underline just how well Alli transitioned from the third tier to the top flight, he scored 10 goals in his maiden Premier League season in 2015-16.

That jumped to a mightily impressive 18 in the following campaign, that haul coming at a rate of a goal every 169 minutes.

And yet in 2017-18 and 2018-19 combined, Alli managed just 14 goals, with the latter season yielding five at a rate of one every 367 minutes.

To his credit, Alli upped his game on that front last term, finding the back of the net eight times, or once every 231 minutes.

His attempts on target have followed a similar trend, peaking 1.3 per game in 2016-17 and bottoming out at 0.5 the next season.  

He squeezed in one shot at goal during his lacklustre 45-minute outing against the Toffees at the weekend.

NOT GETTING INVOLVED AT THE SHARP END

Alli was a tremendous creative force for his side for several years, his debut season at Spurs producing nine assists in the league to set the tone.

He built on that with seven the following season and 10 in 2017-18, only to retreat to abject mediocrity with returns of three and four in the next two campaigns.

Those numbers contribute to a clear back-slide in Alli's ability to create chances, which once seemed so easy for him.

In three consecutive seasons from the point of his first appearance for Spurs, Alli tallied 55, 52 and then 64 for the number of chances created.

In contrast, from the start of the 2018-19 season to the end of 2019-20, he laid on just 50 chances combined.

The chances-created-per-minute stat highlights the negative trend, with the 2015-16 figure coming in at a chance created every 45 minutes, declining to one laid on every 80 minutes by the most recently completed season.

A TOUCHY SUBJECT?

Diving into even the small details does not end up reflecting well on Alli, who is simply having fewer touches of the ball than he used to.

Again, his first season holds up well under scrutiny, Alli touching the ball on average 64 times per 90 minutes, but that dropped to 60 in 2019-20.

It may only be a small change, but a closer look throws up a more revealing fact about Alli's touches in the opposition penalty area.

He peaked on that front in 2017-18, when he managed the feat 163 times at an average of 4.9 per 90 minutes. That compares to 83 at an average of last season.

PASSING THE BUCK...

For a midfielder with 37 England caps, passing should be a key skill of Alli's, and one you would expect to improve over time.

However, the numbers are again somewhat disconcerting for Alli, who did initially set off in the right direction.

In 2015-16 he completed 822 passes (30 per 90 minutes) with an accuracy of 76 per cent, which climbed to an 80 per cent accuracy when he found team-mates with 825 passes at an impressive average of 41 per 90 minutes in 2018-19.

But he slumped on that front last term, back to 2015-16 levels, with the numbers only favourable at all if you concern yourselves with decimal places.

DRIBBLES THE SAVING GRACE!

Amid all the doom and gloom, there is one regard in which Alli has made quantifiable strides – dribbling.

At least, his dribbling success has improved (for the most part!). He used to attempt to run with the ball more often, with 4.4 dribbles per 90 minutes in 2016-17, which dropped to 3.4 last season.

But his success rate has climbed from 29 per cent in his first season, peaking at 45 in 2018-19 and settling at 40 last time out.

Jose Mourinho is frustrated he cannot call on Dele Alli for Tottenham's big clash with Manchester United on Friday.

England midfielder Alli must serve a one-match ban for a racially insensitive social media post he made in February, forcing him to miss Spurs' first game since the Premier League returned.

A video on Snapchat showed Alli in an airport mocking an Asian man in reference to coronavirus, before the lockdown. Alli said he videoed the man because he was coughing, not because of his ethnicity and admitted he made an "extremely poorly judged joke".

According to Mourinho, others have avoided punishment despite committing more serious misconduct during the pandemic.

Mourinho said in a news conference, held by video link on Thursday: "I feel very, very sorry that Dele is not playing. He is a player that works so, so hard during all this period and he's really frustrated that he cannot play the first match.

"I don't want to say much more than I don't think he deserves a one-match ban compared with wrong behaviours at much bigger dimensions that happened during this period without any consequences.”

The video posted by Alli showed him wearing a protective facemask in an airport and was entitled "Corona whattt, please listen with volume". It cut to the gentleman, who appeared to be unaware he was being filmed, before panning to a bottle of antiseptic handwash.

Underneath, a caption read: "This virus gunna have to be quicker than that to catch me."

The 24-year-old deleted the video and posted an apology to the Chinese social media network Weibo.

Mourinho, who is preparing to face his former club, can recall England captain Harry Kane after a long injury lay-off, and that may allay the blow of losing Alli.

Asked how Tottenham would shape up without Alli, Mourinho said: “How are we going to play? I’m not going to tell you.”

Lionel Messi is reportedly set to re-sign with Barcelona.

The Argentina star is out of contract at Camp Nou next year, but is seemingly set to extend his stay with the LaLiga giants a little longer.

Messi, 32, has spent his entire professional career at Barcelona – and he may yet end up a one-club player.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI TO EXTEND BARCELONA CONTRACT UNTIL 2023

Messi will extend his contract at Barcelona until 2023, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The report says the forward will get to decide if he wants to leave the club before then.

Messi is enjoying another fine season with Barcelona, scoring 26 goals in 33 games in all competitions.

ROUND-UP

- Tottenham want to hold onto their stars. The Telegraph reports chairman Daniel Levy is eager to keep Spurs' best players, including Harry Kane – who has been linked to Real Madrid – and Dele Alli and Son Heung-min.

- It remains to be seen if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will stay at Arsenal. CalcioMercato reports the forward – out of contract until 2021 – is open to a move to Inter, but the Gabon international is not among the Serie A club's top choices if they need to replace Lautaro Martinez, who is wanted by Barcelona.

- Madrid are reportedly eager to sign Rennes midfielder Eduardo Camavinga. But Sport says the Ligue 1 club are working to extend the the 17-year-old's contract, with his deal running until 2022.

- Liverpool could be set to make changes. The Sun reports Xherdan Shaqiri, Divock Origi and Dejan Lovren could make exits, while Marko Grujic and Harry Wilson may leave on permanent deals. It also says Liverpool are set to give Naby Keita one more season to prove his worth.

- Borussia Dortmund seem some way off landing Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham. Bild reports the Bundesliga club have offered just a little more than €20million (£17.9m) for Bellingham, who reportedly has a release clause of €35m (£31.4m).

- Empoli midfielder Samuele Ricci is reportedly catching the eye. CalcioMercato says Milan have kept an eye on the 18-year-old, while Napoli and Borussia Dortmund are also said to be interested.

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