Dele Alli should be approaching his peak years but the Tottenham midfielder appears to be in stark decline.
From his Spurs debut back in August 2015, the midfielder's trajectory was initially impressive as he quickly adapted to the big step up from MK Dons.
An England debut soon followed and the youngster apparently had the world at his feet.
Fast forward to the opening game of Spurs' 2020-21 Premier League campaign on Sunday, when Alli was hooked by Jose Mourinho at half-time of a limp 1-0 loss to Everton, and the outlook is markedly different.
Alli has stagnated, perhaps even regressed, with any hope that the new campaign would herald a fresh start quick to evaporate.
So just how far below his high-water mark has the 24-year-old fallen? The Opta numbers tell the story...
GOALS HARDER TO COME BY
To underline just how well Alli transitioned from the third tier to the top flight, he scored 10 goals in his maiden Premier League season in 2015-16.
That jumped to a mightily impressive 18 in the following campaign, that haul coming at a rate of a goal every 169 minutes.
And yet in 2017-18 and 2018-19 combined, Alli managed just 14 goals, with the latter season yielding five at a rate of one every 367 minutes.
To his credit, Alli upped his game on that front last term, finding the back of the net eight times, or once every 231 minutes.
His attempts on target have followed a similar trend, peaking 1.3 per game in 2016-17 and bottoming out at 0.5 the next season.
He squeezed in one shot at goal during his lacklustre 45-minute outing against the Toffees at the weekend.
NOT GETTING INVOLVED AT THE SHARP END
Alli was a tremendous creative force for his side for several years, his debut season at Spurs producing nine assists in the league to set the tone.
He built on that with seven the following season and 10 in 2017-18, only to retreat to abject mediocrity with returns of three and four in the next two campaigns.
Those numbers contribute to a clear back-slide in Alli's ability to create chances, which once seemed so easy for him.
3 – Top three PL players with the most goal involvements in all comps in 2017.Harry Kane (21)— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2017
Dele Alli (19)
Christian Eriksen (19)Trio.
In three consecutive seasons from the point of his first appearance for Spurs, Alli tallied 55, 52 and then 64 for the number of chances created.
In contrast, from the start of the 2018-19 season to the end of 2019-20, he laid on just 50 chances combined.
The chances-created-per-minute stat highlights the negative trend, with the 2015-16 figure coming in at a chance created every 45 minutes, declining to one laid on every 80 minutes by the most recently completed season.
A TOUCHY SUBJECT?
Diving into even the small details does not end up reflecting well on Alli, who is simply having fewer touches of the ball than he used to.
Again, his first season holds up well under scrutiny, Alli touching the ball on average 64 times per 90 minutes, but that dropped to 60 in 2019-20.
It may only be a small change, but a closer look throws up a more revealing fact about Alli's touches in the opposition penalty area.
He peaked on that front in 2017-18, when he managed the feat 163 times at an average of 4.9 per 90 minutes. That compares to 83 at an average of 4 last season.
PASSING THE BUCK...
For a midfielder with 37 England caps, passing should be a key skill of Alli's, and one you would expect to improve over time.
However, the numbers are again somewhat disconcerting for Alli, who did initially set off in the right direction.
In 2015-16 he completed 822 passes (30 per 90 minutes) with an accuracy of 76 per cent, which climbed to an 80 per cent accuracy when he found team-mates with 825 passes at an impressive average of 41 per 90 minutes in 2018-19.
But he slumped on that front last term, back to 2015-16 levels, with the numbers only favourable at all if you concern yourselves with decimal places.
DRIBBLES THE SAVING GRACE!
Amid all the doom and gloom, there is one regard in which Alli has made quantifiable strides – dribbling.
At least, his dribbling success has improved (for the most part!). He used to attempt to run with the ball more often, with 4.4 dribbles per 90 minutes in 2016-17, which dropped to 3.4 last season.
But his success rate has climbed from 29 per cent in his first season, peaking at 45 in 2018-19 and settling at 40 last time out.Published 14 Sep 2020, 19:42 IST