Dele Alli added another dazzling entry to his showreel with a sublime opening goal in Tottenham Hotspur’s 4-0 rout of Watford on Saturday as comparisons with England’s so-called golden generation stacked up.
The 20-year-old took his Premier League tally for the season to 16, six more than he managed in the 2015-16 campaign when he burst on to the scene, having joined from MK Dons.
Last season’s PFA Young Player of Year has now been involved in 40 Premier League goals in his short top-flight career — more than Frank Lampard, David Beckham and Steven Gerrard combined before they had reached their 21st birthdays.
Alli still has a long way to go to emulate the feats of that trio but should he continue his current form and Tottenham reel in Premier League leaders Chelsea he would be a favourite for the Player of the Season award.
“The world is at his feet and he is 20 years old,” former Liverpool great Graeme Souness, summarising for Sky Sports, said.
“He doesn’t look out of place, he is a star in the Premier League. How far could he go? There are two things that will determine how far he can go — if he gets a bad injury and gets unlucky or if he stops turning up everyday wanting to learn.
“He strikes me as someone whose feet are on the ground. There is a steely determination there.”
Yet only a few weeks ago, Alli’s temperament was being questioned after being sent off for an atrocious knee-high tackle on Gent’s Brecht Dejaegere during a Europa League match.
It was a reminder of the ruthless streak that many of the world’s best players have possessed and that occasionally landed Beckham and Gerrard in hot water.
Since that rush of blood, Alli has been a model of calm in Tottenham’s impressive chase of Chelsea, scoring six goals and helping create several others in seven appearances.
On Wednesday, it was Alli who popped up in the 88th minute to equalise against Swansea before Tottenham went on to win 3-1.
Three days later, he produced a goal that would have had Europe’s biggest clubs drooling.
After a neat interchange of passes with Christian Eriksen, Alli jinked to his right and curled a 25-metre shot past Watford’s helpless goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.