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Liverpool rejected a big talent at £5m, then he became worth £150m & one of the best in the PL

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Jurgen Klopp would have turned this star into one of the finest players in the business…

Liverpool are back on track this season after struggling to perform last year, and Jurgen Klopp will be delighted that his stratagems to revitalise the midfield have gone off without a hitch.

The signings of Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister, Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch have been made with an eye on energy and enthusiasm renewed, and the early-season success has been remarkable, with the Reds storming into a seven-match winning streak across all competitions after drawing to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on the opening day of the term.

The malaise that crept in last season has perhaps detracted from the illustrious, glittering success of Klopp’s reign on Merseyside since taking the helm in 2015, with many lamenting the severity of the collapse last term; as if in a quake, the honours dotted on the shelves trembled and fell.

But now, things appear to be back on track, with the centre of the Anfield pitch restored. It’s quite possible, that had Liverpool’s myopic transfer efforts over the past several years not been so, well, short-sighted, appropriate moves might have been made to maintain the equilibrium and continue the silver-laden journey.

And, dating back to the days before the German manager’s appointment, one Dele Alli been signed before his journey with Tottenham Hotspur started, Liverpool might have boasted a star man to maintain success, and the prosperity of his once prodigious career might still be intact.

Did Liverpool nearly sign Dele Alli?

In 2015, prominent Liverpool reporter James Pearce – who writes for The Athletic but worked for the Liverpool Echo at the time – revealed that Alli had been on Liverpool’s radar prior to his move to Tottenham from League One side MK Dons.

Alli is believed to be a boyhood Red and held Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard as his icon in the past, seeking to emulate the former England star with his own playing style, something that was indeed reflected during his finest days in a Spurs shirt.

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According to Pearce, Alli had been ‘scouted extensively’ by the Anfield side and was one whose talents were held in high regard, and after an emphatic 2014/15 campaign with the Dons, scoring 16 goals and supplying nine assists in League One and starring in an infamous 4-0 victory over MK Dons in the League Cup, he earned a £5m transfer to Tottenham in February 2015, remaining with his erstwhile outfit for the remainder of the term.

Sky Sports confirmed that numerous Premier League sides had been interested in his signature but it was the project in north London that had convinced the then 18-year-old to forge the maiden stage of his career at Tottenham.

Reds manager at the time, Brendan Rodgers, was certain of the precocious talent’s skill set and urged the board to make their move, but the powers that be were dissuaded by the £5m price tag and ultimately opted to focus their attention elsewhere.

What a mistake that turned out to be. Despite the 27-year-old’s struggles and affecting decline, he is one of the brightest talents to ever burst onto the scene on Premier League soil, and under Klopp’s stewardship, he might have sustained his position of rising power.

How good was Dele Alli?

Jose Mourinho once proclaimed that Alli could become “one of the world’s best”, and certainly, across the first several seasons at Tottenham, the England international proved to be a bona fide prodigy, alighting the English top-flight with his razor-sharp offensive movements and clinical finishing.

Across the first three Premier League seasons, the 37-cap international actually scored 37 goals and supplied 29 assists from 106 outings, with the majority of that time preceding his 22nd birthday.

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Hailed as “very special” by Barcelona legend and current manager Xavi, Alli had the world at his feet and truly looked to be set to stay at the forefront of Premier League prominence for years to come, excelling in an offensive midfield role by combining his intelligent awareness with instinctive, powerful bursting movements into danger areas – both with the ball at his feet and when waiting to be the recipient of a pass from a teammate.

At his zenith, Alli was valued at a staggering £150m by the Lilywhites, which underscored just how incredible a player he was, but it all came crashing down in startling swiftness.

The Athletic cited a decline in both output and technical prowess to have contributed to his regression over the past several years, with the 6 foot 2 star only scoring one Premier League goal since the 2019/20 campaign.

Alli, at his very best, thrived off high-octane teammates pushing the play forward, allowing him to foray into the danger areas and wreak havoc, with superlative creativity enveloping him.

Well, at Liverpool this would have been the best he could have wished for, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson overlapping from the wide channels and the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane providing the kind of first-rate offensive ferocity that Alli could have bounced off.

Alli fell by the wayside and slipped from a starring role at Tottenham before completing a free transfer to Everton in winter 2022, with the first £10m permissible after he completed 20 appearances for the Merseyside outfit, something that has still not happened, having played in only 13 matches to date.

Alli has cited traumatic personal issues and several distinctive circumstances to have contributed to a fall from grace, and the footballing world will be behind the dynamic midfielder if and when he does take to the Premier League pitch again.

The £100k-per-week ace is currently battling an injury with the Toffees, with Sean Dyche revealing in August that he was “miles away” from a return to competitive action as he rehabilitates from a hip injury.

While nothing is certain in football nor in life, the stability and impact that Klopp could have had on his career and growth might have provided Alli with the perfect foundation to build from, and while his prowess as a youngster will always be remembered as among the most prodigious in Premier League history, under Klopp’s tutelage, he might still be burgeoning to this day.

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