In pictures: Tottenham v Man City
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Nuno Espirito Santo is determined to “take advantage” of Dele Alli’s ability as he looks to rebuild Tottenham this season. Nuno got his stint in charge of Spurs off to a perfect start on Sunday with an impressive 1-0 win over defending Premier League champions Manchester City.
Dele started in midfield alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Oliver Skipp at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, turning in a solid performance as the hosts got the better of City.
It was a welcome start for the England midfielder, who endured a difficult campaign under Jose Mourinho last season.
The 25-year-old started just seven Premier League matches in 2020/21, totalling 619 minutes, but looks set to play a more important role under Nuno this season.
He was delighted with his performance in front of 58,262 fans in north London, tweeting: “What a day!! Felt unbelievable to have the fans back in the stadium and even better to get the 3 points!”
That feeling was certainly mutual, with Nuno explaining his plan for Dele in his post-match press conference.
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“Our job as managers is always to find the best solutions for the players, trying to create societies, tasks that the players can do to their full potential,” he said.
“Dele, besides all the talent he has, is a runner, he is a runner.
“He has this ability to go from box to box and we as a team should take advantage of it.”
Dele played in a three-man midfield behind Son, Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn against Man City, suggesting a slightly different role to previous campaigns.
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He has previously made his name as an attacking midfielder or number 10, but it seems he might play deeper for his new manager.
Despite his difficulties working with Mourinho, Dele has a philosophical outlook on their relationship.
“The only person I blame is myself,” he told Goal last month.
“I should be performing at a level where it is difficult to not put me in the team or not play me. I don’t blame anyone but myself.
“Working with Mourinho was a great experience and one I learned a lot from.”
Nuno’s suggestion that Dele will play a deeper-lying box-to-box midfielder could spell the end of speculation that Spurs could look to bring in a new midfielder before the transfer deadline on August 31.
Spurs have been linked with new arrivals in the middle of the park, especially given Tanguy Ndombele’s continued absence, but it seems priorities may lie elsewhere.
Director of football Fabio Paratici is known to want two centre-backs this summer and, while Cristian Romero made his debut as a late substitute against City, another addition is still required.
Sevilla’s Jules Kounde and Bologna’s Takehiro Tomiyasu have both been linked with a move to north London but Paratici is understood to have several irons in the fire.
Meanwhile, the club are also keen to bring in reinforcements up front to provide help for Harry Kane, who they are desperately trying to hold onto amid interest from Man City.
Dusan Vlahovic of Fiorentina has been strongly linked, while The Telegraph recently reported that Leeds’ Patrick Bamford is also of interest to Spurs.
It remains to be seen what Spurs do in the remaining 15 days of the transfer window, but it seems Dele’s reemergence has provided Nuno with a weapon his predecessor failed to utilise.
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