Dele Alli
Dele Alli at Tottenham Lindsey Parnaby

Former Tottenham star Dele Alli has courted controversy after being pictured surrounded by laughing gas canisters and with a balloon in his mouth. The image went viral just days after the player was sent back to Everton by Turkish side Besiktas JK after a disastrous loan spell.

The footballer could be seen in the photo sitting at a table with a group of other individuals while he and at least two other companions had gold coloured ballons in their mouths. Several canisters of what appear to be nitrous oxide, more commonly known as "laughing gas" could be seen on the table in front of the group.

The gas, which has practical uses in medicine for sedation and pain relief, is also often used recreationally by people to feel intoxicated or high. On the street, it is referred to as a "legal high" because of the fact that canisters are legally available to purchase. Most commonly, doctors and dentists use the gas to sedate patients undergoing minor procedures.

Because of its effects, some people have been abusing the inhalant, gaining it the reputation of being "hippy crack." Incidentally, one of the most common methods to get high is inhaling the gas from an inflated balloon. Needless to say, this looked like what Alli and his companions were doing. However, it is unclear when or where the snap was taken.

Apart from the gas canisters, the table was also laden with other intoxicating substances such as tins of the popular Scandinavian tobacco called snus. There are bottles of water, tonic wine, as well as a £300 bottle of Clase Azul tequila.

The photo has gone viral on social media, and the original source could not be verified. However, numerous reports claim that it was originally shared on the Be Real photo app before being grabbed and shared exponentially elsewhere.

Needless to say, the criticism has been relentless on social media. Many are saying that they are witnessing "the downfall" of someone who could have been "one of the greatest."

The UK Government recently revealed that there are plans to make possession of nitrous oxide illegal due to the alarming number of recreational users. This controversy involving a high profile footballer will surely hasten the process.

Speaking of his career, Alli has certainly been on a massive slump since joining Everton from his glory days at Tottenham in January 2022. The 26-year-old was almost immediately sent out on loan to Turkish side Besiktas after spending only a few months with the Toffees.

He managed to score only two goals in 13 games with the Turkish side, prompting the club to try to offload him during the January transfer window for falling below expectations. Manager Şenol Güneş was clearly unhappy with Alli, and things only got worse after he picked up another injury in February.

His last match for the Turkish side was back on February 26, and he has since been shipped back to England to be evaluated by Everton's medical team.

For England, Dele Alli had previously been a regular under Gareth Southgate, but has been dropped since Euro 2020. He has 37 caps for the Three Lions, but it remains to be seen if he will eventually make a comeback.

He is still young enough to be at the peak of his career, but based on the words of Besiktas manager Gunes, his problems may have gone beyond the fitness issues. "Dele Alli has had a good career, but he doesn't deserve to play at the moment," Gunes said.

As of now, it is unclear if Everton will let Alli play once he recovers from his latest injury setback. If they decide to find a way to offload him this summer, there is a big question over whether any interested takers will come knocking. The club has not verified the viral laughing gas photos, but it will surely make a dent on the player's reputation and market value.