By Alex Stevens
Brendan Rodgers has revealed he “thought the deal was done” for Liverpool to sign Dele Alli last year.
But the Merseysiders were pipped to the post by Tottenham, who landed the emerging midfield star in a £5million deal from MK Dons in January 2015.
The 19-year-old has since become a regular in the Spurs’ first team, scoring five goals in 20 Premier League appearances in a sensational debut campaign and opening his account for England at senior level.
Rodgers – speaking on Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday in his first British television appearance since being sacked by the Reds in October – shed light on just how close he came to securing Alli’s signature.
“We thought the deal was done but unfortunately he went to Tottenham,” he said. “I spoke to Karl [Robinson, the MK Dons manager] in a hotel room with Dele. It was all above board, the clubs knew about it.”
As reported by Football Insider, 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.
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, supplemented by a man-of-the-match display against France on what was his first England start.