Former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says it was "frustrating and disappointing" that the club failed to complete a deal to sign England midfielder Dele Alli prior to him joining Tottenham Hotspur. The 19-year-old moved to White Hart Lane from Milton Keynes in the January 2015 transfer window, but not before holding intensive discussions with the Merseyside club.
Alli has been one of the stand-out performers in the Premier League this season as part of a Spurs side who are just five points adrift of leaders Arsenal. The midfielder has netted five goals and made three assists in 17 starts in his maiden campaign in the top flight.
Such form has seen Alli make a late charge on winning a place in Roy Hodgson's England squad for the 2016 European Championship, with the player marking his full international debut with a stunning strike against France at Wembley. Rodgers says he was alerted to Alli's talent by MK Dons boss Karl Robinson, but concedes Liverpool were inexplicably unable to make a deal happen.
"Alli has stepped up really, really well," he told Sky Sports. "He's fantastic and we thought we'd had him at Liverpool. I spoke to him with his adopted parents and Karl Robinson, the manager of MK Dons, drove him down to us. He played a game on the Saturday, we were playing West Ham on the Sunday.
"We had contact with Dele, it was all above board, and I was speaking to Karl Robinson. Karl did a brilliant job with him, playing him in different positions to educate him in the game. Karl had come up to me and said 'listen Brendan I've got a player and I think he's going to be fantastic and I'd love to see him at Liverpool'.
"We'd watched him and I spent a couple of hours in a hotel room with him, and he wanted to come to Liverpool. It was just about getting the deal done with the club and unfortunately it never got done. At that point, that Saturday evening, we thought we had him in. He stayed on, the deal didn't get done between the clubs and eventually he went to Tottenham which was frustrating and disappointing."
Alli is currently part of a throng of English players currently flirting with a tilt at the title at Tottenham, including Harry Kane and Eric Dier, but the performances of the ex-MK Dons man has seen his value quadruple in recent month according to Harry Redknapp. Tottenham paid £5m for Alli in January 2015, according to BBC Sport, but Redknapp believes he is worth close to £20m.
"It would be interesting to see all the reports on Alli from the so-called good judges who work for the Premier League clubs," he told the Evening Standard. "Tottenham paid £5m for him in the end, which is nothing. It is an amazing buy. He's worth at least £20m now if not a lot more. And Spurs had a clear run at signing him. Tottenham stole him for £5m.
"Full credit should go to Mauricio Pochettino. He has thrown kids in at Spurs and they have thrived. Okay, they bought a couple of them in but basically Pochettino has developed a group of young players by giving them the self-belief to go and fulfil their potential. If only more people had that bravery."