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Dele Alli & his agents battle: Why it's falling in place for Mourinho's Man Utd

COMMENT: Two pay-rises in ten months. A third now on it's way. And he's running around for a Champions League club. All in all, Rob Segal can feel he's done right by Dele Alli. And the Tottenham midfielder, no doubt, feels the same...

Yet, it's not enough. Not for Alli. Not for his family. And not at this stage in his career. Segal's gone. A relationship which oversaw Alli's move from MK Dons to Spurs - via a trip to Liverpool - now on the rocks.

So why the change? And why now? It's as clear as it is frustrating for Spurs fans. Alli's no Harry Kane. This ain't no long-term thing. His next move is already in the works. This season - and hopefully it's beyond January - will be his last in a Lilywhite shirt.

Sergio Berti, that wily old Italian agent, was famous - some say infamous - for managing the nigh impossible. Time and again - particularly with his blue chip client Christian Vieri - Berti managed, somehow, to extract him from one massive club and place him at another. Juventus. Inter Milan. Even Atletico Madrid. None of them, particularly during Vieri's heyday, were considered selling clubs. Yet, with the bit between his teeth, nothing could stop Berti.

Today, such a mantle goes to another brash, take-no-prisoners Italian. And to this column's regulars, there's no prize for stating the bleedin' obvious.

"I needed an agent and I called my friend Ouasim Bouy, who I've known since I was 11," recalled Romelu Lukaku, Manchester United's £75m striker, earlier this year. "I asked him for the number of his agent Mino Raiola and I called him.

"Why Raiola? Because I had read the book of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, in which he told how he had chosen him. I wanted the same thing."

In his quiet moments, Mino Raiola would acknowledge Berti had it tougher. There was no TV money as it is today. No Sheikhs. Not even buyout clauses. But you can only beat what's in front of you - and Raiola has shown a unique inventiveness in moving high profile clients between clubs.

Raiola is already speaking with Alli's family. As is Jorge Mendes. The two biggest agents on the planet. Two of the biggest and most powerful influences in today's game. They both want Alli's name on a service contract. Although, just as an aside, it must be said his deal with Segal does run until next summer.

But that's a minor detail. The relationship is no more. Alli is in play - and those in-the-know recognise, this isn't about a jotty pay-rise.

Segal will have landed that third hike for Alli this year. Since the £60,000-a-week he penned in September, Segal had been pushing Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman, to revisit negotiations about placing Alli on par with top earners Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris. The €100,000-a-week deal, under Segal, was always going to happen.

No, this isn't about what Levy deems he's worth on the Spurs payroll. Raiola and Mendes don't take on players of Alli's status just for the sake of it. To negotiate the odd pay-hike every couple of years. Pure and simple: this is about the 21 year-old leaving Spurs.

It's Spain, they say. Real Madrid or Barcelona. That's where Alli will next call home. But why the assumption? After all, Barca now buy their midfielders from China. Oh, and of course, transform €10m players into €150m ones overnight. In Real's case, just as with Barca, they were outplayed at their own game by PSG. Instead of Kylian Mbappe, Madridistas this summer 'celebrated' the arrival of Dani Ceballos from Real Betis. The transfer market, at least on this summer's evidence, appears to be passing Spain by.

It's emerged over the last 24 hours that Jose Mourinho posted not one, but two of his trusted scouts at the Olimpico last week. Their mission? To each run their eye over Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez and his Roma rival Radja Nainggolan.

The story goes the Manchester United manager has already accepted Michael Carrick will be moving on at season's end and he wants a new midfield addition identified over the coming months. With Nemanja Matic already appearing part of the furniture at Old Trafford, a like-for-like replacement isn't on the agenda. And for Saul. As for Nainggolan. You can easily slip Alli into the same bracket.

Mendes, of course, is Mourinho's long time agent. Raiola, well on a good day, can boast half of United's starting XI. And after last week's postings to Rome, it's clear an opening is about to emerge in United's midfield.

“He is probably the best young midfielder I have seen in many years," so said Sir Alex Ferguson, of Dele Alli, last year. “Probably going back as far as Gascoigne."

Of course, Fergie never had the chance to work with Gazza - and next year will mark the 30th anniversary of him choosing Spurs and Terry Venables over Sir Alex.

What better way for Mourinho to pay tribute to his old mentor than bringing the next best thing to Old Trafford in 2018.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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