In Brief

Dele Alli at 21: Spurs star eclipses Ronaldo and Pogba

Critics pay tribute to Tottenham midfielder, who now has 40 Premier League goals and assists to his name after win against Watford

Spurs midfielder Dele Alli scored his 16th goal of the season and reinforced his credentials as the best young midfielder in Europe as Tottenham kept up their pursuit of Chelsea with an emphatic 4-0 win over Watford.

Ahead of his 21st birthday this week, the England star has more Premier League goals and assists than Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes and Cristiano Ronaldo at that age.

"In fact, Alli's combined total of 40 means he has had a hand in as many Premier League goals before turning 21 as Lampard (15), Gerrard (13) and David Beckham (12) combined," says Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph.

Turning 21 represents a coming of age, says Sachin Nakrani of The Guardian. "On a personal level that may well prove the case for the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder, yet in a sporting sense it already feels he is a fully grown performer, a player with man-size capabilities.

"That is evident to anyone who has watched him this season as game after game, week after week, Alli has displayed a level of skill, drive and intelligence that belies his tender years."

His potential is "frightening", says Gary Jacob of The Times. "The Tottenham midfielder has an eye for a chance and has displayed the full range of his versatility of late, arriving with perfect timing to make tap-ins look simple, pulling away for headers and, on Saturday, curling in a beautiful shot that opened the floodgates.

"All his goals are scored with frightening efficiency. There is something so captivating about Alli that it is hard, even for those with strong rival allegiances, not to express admiration."

It is worth comparing Alli's achievements to those of Paul Pogba, the world's most expensive footballer, says Jamie Redknapp in the Daily Mail.

"After a sensational campaign, Alli has eclipsed Pogba. If the United midfielder cost a world-record £89m, then what does that make Alli worth? He is becoming the perfect player."

Alli's free role at Spurs suits him perfectly, adds Redknapp: "I love his footballing arrogance. Alli knows how good he is and, if he does not leave England he has the ability to become the best attacking midfielder in Premier League history."

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