Stan Collymore says Everton star Dele Alli should “pull his finger out” or consider retiring from professional football.
Dele joined Everton in January from Tottenham in a deal that could rise to £20m, but is yet to start a Premier League game under Frank Lampard.
The midfielder’s fall from grace has seen him go from an indispensable figure for Spurs under Mauricio Pochettino in 2018-19, when he started the Champions League final defeat to Liverpool, to a squad player at best.
It was thought a change of scenery could restart Dele’s career, but his struggles have continued under Lampard at Goodison Park.
And former Liverpool striker Collymore has questioned whether the time has come for Dele to step away from football altogether.
“Dele needs to answer some serious question, for himself, no one else. He has to ask: Do you want to play professional football, or are you not cut out for it?” Collymore wrote in his column for The Mirror.
“If not, don’t do that, think of conning clubs into giving you a year, based on past reputations, and drift down the ranks. Everton, to Norwich, to the Championship. If no, then get to the end of your contract, and move on with life.
“If he doesn’t want to be a pro footballer, get your head down. I don’t think his clothing, or hair, or what he drives make a big difference but they can allude to a person’s character. I wonder what he is trying to portray. That he wants to be a bit bohemian and has given up on the life of a footballer?
“I am a massive advocate for mental health, and I’d say pull your finger out and start to move your life forward. Be more disciplined with yourself. Listen to Frank Lampard. Stay at the training ground longer. Be the first in and last out.”
Dele is believed to earn around £100,000-a-week and Collymore says it’s wrong for him to continue to collect such a wage if his heart isn’t in it and urged him to follow the lead of former tennis star Ashleigh Barty, who retired at the age of 25 despite being world number one at the time.
“He’s 25, and could still have 5-6 years at the top level of the top flight and contribute to a football club,” he added. “But this is his crossroads. You can’t take 80-100 grand a week winging it around clubs with managers who will always think they are the one to get something out of him.
“It would be unfair to do that if he doesn’t have the appetite. He has to be honest. If he wants to drift, go backpacking around the world and spend the good few quid he’s earned. Maybe he needs to have an Ash Barty moment. So many tennis players and swimmers get to their mid-20s and think they’ve been doing sport for years. They ask: why put myself through it? It’s not important anymore.”