Six players whose talents vanished into thin air as Dele Alli faces Everton axe

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Whatever happened to two-time PFA Young Player of the Year Dele Alli?

By all rights he should be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Harry Kane leading Tottenham's charge up to the table and England's crusade to Qatar to bring 56 years of hurt (God, is it really that many?) to an end.

Alli took to the Premier League like a duck to water after arriving from MK Dons as a fresh-faced sprout in 2015, bagging 32 goals in his first two seasons – including a wizardly swivelled-volley against Crystal Palace in January 2016 to grab the world's attention.

Sir Alex Ferguson began name-dropping him as the player he'd go after if he were still ferociously chomping gum on the Old Trafford sidelines, and who could blame him? Alli's ceiling seemed stratospheric. But his form inexplicably fell off a cliff a couple of years later and the midfielder has looked a shell of his dynamite former self ever since.

READ MORE: Frank Lampard mutters to assistant after Dele Alli horror miss in Everton friendly loss

He moved to Everton on a free transfer in January in a bid to resurrect his career, having lost both his Tottenham and England first team spots long ago, but even in a struggling Toffees team crying out for a little invention and dynamism, Alli has been almost pointlessly ineffective.

And now, with rumours Everton are looking to offload him, Daily Star Sport has taken a look back at six other players whose talents vanished in similarly bizarre style.

Fernando Torres

Fernando Torres arrived at Chelsea as arguably the Premier League's most fearsome striker having torn defenders apart for three seasons at Liverpool, scoring a whopping 81 goals as the golden-haired hero of the Kop.

But the Spaniard could barely hit a barn door with a banjo wearing blue, infamously taking more than 900 minutes to register his first goal for the club. Granted injuries had taken some of his explosiveness away during his final half-season at Anfield, but Chelsea could never have envisaged quite such a cataclysmic drop-off in form.

A string of goal droughts and high-profile misses would later snuff Torres' confidence to such a degree that fans were convinced the club had paid £50million for some sort of inept Spanish doppelganger.

Out of all the players on this list, whose downfall surprised you the most? Let us know in the comments section below.

Alexis Sanchez

Manchester United thought they'd hit the jackpot after beating rivals Manchester City to Alexis Sanchez's signature back in 2018, though the Chilean's Old Trafford career would last just 18 miserable months.

Given he was coming off the back of a 30-goal season with Arsenal, few eyebrows were raised when he signed a colossal £500,000-a-week contract, but within just a couple of weeks he was struggling to justify earning even 10% of it.

The combative fearlessness on the ball that he'd shown so readily in north London was suddenly nowhere in sight and it wasn't long before the highest paid player in the Premier League was warming the bench. He was loaned to Inter Milan in 2019, and United paid Sanchez £9million just to cancel his contract a year later.

Andriy Shevchenko

Chelsea have a habit of spending oodles of cash on big-name strikers who then forget how to play football, don't they?

Andriy Shevchenko was meant to be the last piece of the puzzle when he arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2006. The Blues had romped to back-to-back to titles and all that was missing was a superstar striker (this was prior to peak Didier Drogba).

The Ballon d'Or-winning Ukrainian showed glimpses of brilliance but lacked the cutting edge that made him a global superstar at AC Milan – where he'd netted 173 goals in seven spellbinding seasons. His eye for goal waned under the weight of his £30million price-tag and Shevchenko soon fell behind both Drogba and Nicolas Anelka in the pecking order, before being unceremoniously loaned back to the San Siro in 2008.

Radamel Falcao

You don't earn the nickname El Tigre (the tiger, duh) unless you're some kind of merciless animal in front of goal – and that's exactly what Radamel Falcao was … until he came to England.

The Colombian striker swaggered his way to the top of every major European club's shopping list after blasting 72 goals in just two seasons at Porto. He then spent a couple of similarly monstrous years at Atletico Madrid, netting 70 times, before anti-climactically joining newly-promoted (and newly-bankrolled) Ligue 1 side Monaco – rejecting less lucrative (but far more sensible) approaches from all corners of the continent.

He signed for Manchester United on loan a year later, but looked more cub than tiger as he ended the season with just four goals, and tried his hand at Chelsea the following season, scoring just once. Needless to say, both clubs were left wondering what they ever saw in him.

Michael Owen

Michael Owen's career was ultimately wrecked by injury but the fact he left English football in 2004 as one of Europe's most prolific strikers, only to return a year later more washed up than seaweed is still a bit of a mystery – especially since his season at Real Madrid was a semi-successful one!

Despite pining for a return to Liverpool, Owen signed for Newcastle United and while he made a reasonable start to his stint on Tyneside, he no longer had the explosive pace that had come to define his career.

He struggled for fitness and form over the next few seasons and despite having a Ballon d'Or-winning 28-year-old in their squad, Newcastle happily offloaded him to Manchester United in 2009 – where he played fourth-fiddle to Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez – before seeing out his playing days at Stoke City.

Juan Sebastian Veron

No one batted an eyelid when Manchester United broke the British transfer record to sign Juan Sebastian Veron in 2001. The Argentinian pass master had spent the previous five seasons lighting up Serie A and was aptly regarded as one of the best, and most complete, midfielders around.

But all that changed when he arrived at Old Trafford. Struggling to cope with the fast-paced nature of the Premier League, Veron began producing stinker after stinker, prompting Fergie to defend him to the media in an expletive-laden tirade.

Nevertheless, United cut their losses and sold Veron to Chelsea in 2003, where he spent a completely forgettable injury-plagued season, before being loaned back to Italy in 2004.


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