Despite disciplinary issues in the past, the former Spurs defender says it is important for the midfielder to keep his “edge”
Former Tottenham captain Ledley King believes it is important Dele Alli keeps his “edge”, even if other teams target the England international.
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Alli has enjoyed a meteoric rise since making his Spurs debut in August 2015, scoring 23 goals in all competitions and becoming an regular under Mauricio Pochettino.
However, he has also encountered a number of disciplinary problems with 15 bookings across his 80 appearances, while he also served a three-match ban for punching West Brom’s Claudio Yacob last season.
While this record has made the 20-year-old midfielder an easy target for opposition players, King is pleased with the way Alli has dealt with the added pressure.
“People will have looked at his record and will have targeted him in terms of trying to get around him, frustrate him and rile him,” King told the London Evening Standard.
“There will be games where he does get frustrated — as we all do — but he is still young and is learning to deal with the pressures of being a top player in the Premier League. That can take time.
“He has made progress on that front — he has only five yellow cards this season. What you don’t want to do is lose that edge he has. Most of the best players have that edge about them — it tends to come from what they’ve been through or where they grew up.
“Dele has it and you want him to keep it, but he has to be careful, too. He can’t jeopardise the team for one silly moment and he has been a lot better at that this season.
“You still want him to show that toughness — you want to send a message to your opponents that you are not afraid. It doesn’t matter if they kick or foul you, you get up and keep coming back at them, because it won’t put you off your game.
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“Dele has shown that already and there are now signs he can control his temperament along with it, doing the business on the pitch.”
Alli has scored 11 league goals in this campaign, already bettering his tally from last term, while Tottenham are third in the table.