By Alex Stevens
Liverpool were hot on the trail of Delle Alli before they allowed him to slip through the net and join Tottenham, Football Insider sources understand.
The Merseyside giants scouted England’s new star frequently over a two-year period and held extensive talks with his former club MK Dons about a deal in the summer of 2014.
Manager Brendan Rodgers was keen to sign the teenager but Liverpool were put off by the performance-related add-ons requested by the Championship club and pulled out of a deal.
The Anfield club were not even in the running for Alli last January by the time Tottenham beat off competition from Newcastle and Aston Villa to secure the services of the boyhood Liverpool fan.
Spurs agreed to pay an initial £5million for the 19-year-old, rising to a potential £11million depending on triggers such as Premier League and international appearances.
Crucially, Tottenham also agreed to MK Dons’ request for Alli to be loaned back to them for the second half of last season.
It is looking like money well spent by the London club following the impressive way Alli has adapted to the Premier League, culminating in a man-of-the-match display against France on Tuesday night on what was his first England start.
Former Liverpool academy coach and current MK Dons manager Karl Robinson was in no doubt about Alli’s value and tipped off the Merseysiders about one of the country’s outstanding young talents.
“He is one of the most gifted 17-year-olds this country has ever seen,” Robinson said after Alli had plundered his first senior hat-trick against Notts County in March 2014. “I’ve said from the word go, he’s as good as it gets and he’s the best young player I’ve ever worked with. I see him as a young Steven Gerrard, who had a similar frame and build to him. He needs to learn to score more goals and is getting better at that.”