Former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino likens Dele Alli to Diego Maradona

Former Tottenham boss Pochettino hailed England’s Alli as a star of rare quality, bracketing the 24-year-old alongside his compatriot Maradona.

Alli has fallen out of favour at Spurs under Jose Mourinho and faces an uncertain future in north London, while the former MK Dons midfielder proved an integral part of Pochettino’s success at the club.

While Pochettino refused to comment on Alli’s situation under Mourinho, the former Espanyol and Southampton manager did offer a bold comparison with Maradona, one of the sport’s all-time greats.

“Maradona was a talented, gifted player; so strong, physicality, natural body, that’s strong, quick, powerful, but then his character, it’s winning, the DNA,” Pochettino told Sky Sports, speaking as a guest on Monday Night Football.

“He’s a winner, he’s a winner, and then the charisma, the energy makes him so special.

“The charisma is the best thing he has, when he walks into the room everyone watches him, everyone wants to touch him, wants to ask for a picture.

“His energy, you smell the energy, his charisma it’s amazing.

“Ronaldinho at Paris St Germain was similar.

“And it’s similar in this way with Dele. People love him in this way.

“When you add the charisma to the talent, that’s what makes a special player.

“When he was scoring goals, kids loved him like he was Ronaldinho.

“My son was saying ‘inho, inho, inho’, he was not even two years old and could not really talk, but he had seen Ronaldinho dancing and he had the ball on the back of his neck, on the 7UP advert, with Fido Dido.

“Kids feel this charisma, this energy, and with Dele it’s happened the same; he has this charisma that kids love and follow.

“I’m not going to talk about the situation (for Alli) now, I need to be respectful with the current staff and coaches, it’s not my responsibility any more; you need to respect that.

“Dele was an amazing player for us; the hunger and the energy and the aggression.

“He was always on the edge of the line, so you needed to help him and tell him to be careful and take one step back.

“He’s still young, but I think we enjoyed a lot together, with all the team.

“We built a very special relationship with all the team.

“I hope that everything’s going well for everyone that’s there. My feelings are the best for him and for all the players.”

Pochettino was sacked by Spurs in November 2019 and while he admits he is now ready for a managerial return, the 48-year-old insisted he will wait for the right opening.

“I am not going to close any door, football is going to take the decision,” he said.

“I am waiting to feel what is the right option for us to take. My energy is full and I’d love to be involved in the game.

“It’s a good moment to wait, and for the right project.”

Spurs €50m Zaniolo bid rejected

That’s according to Italian publication Corriere dello Sport, as picked up by Sport Witness.

The 21-year-old once again impressed in Serie A last season, despite Roma finishing outside of the Champions League places in the Italian top flight.

Corriere claim that Tottenham, along with Borussia Dortmund, Juventus and Barcelona, have tabled €50m in an attempt to secure the Italy international’s services.

It’s not the first time that Spurs have been linked with a move for the youngster, with the club said to have been interested in Zaniolo whilst Mauricio Pochettino was in charge.

Tottenham’s bid has been rejected say the Italian paper, along with all other bids from other clubs – they claim that if it wasn’t for the coronavirus pandemic, Roma may have been entertaining offers to the tune of €70m for the highly-rated midfielder.

With the impact of Covid-19 on the transfer market, it’s unknown whether Spurs will return with an improved bid.