Mauricio Pochettino backs Spurs midfielder Dele Alli to dominate for a decade
Mauricio Pochettino has backed Dele Alli to rule European football for the next decade - and do it all at Tottenham.
Pochettino believes Alli could already command a £50million transfer fee, but insists the England midfielder is desperate for silverware with Spurs.
Alli has hit 16 goals in his first 50 Premier League games - more than twice the combined tally that Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard mustered in the same time frame.
Pochettino believes 20-year-old Alli's burgeoning career bears favourable comparison with England's finest, and tipped the 15-cap playmaker to keep accelerating his already-rapid development.
"There's no doubt he is and will be one of the best players in England in the next 10, 12 years," said Pochettino.
"And England represents Europe, and maybe the world too.
"The Premier League is the toughest and the best competition in the world.
"And if you are one of the best in England you are one of the best in Europe.
"In one year and a half we've talked a lot, and we can see how he is, as a person, and that's important, and how he's growing up, not only in football.
"For different reasons that crossed different problems, he's improved a lot in his behaviour, in his game, in football.
"Now it's a big challenge for all the opponents to stop Dele Alli.
"He's said he wants success here, he's very happy here, and there's no doubt that he wants to win titles here.
"I am very honest in that situation, sometimes he will joke in the dressing room or on the pitch, but he's very serious.
"Always I hear him say many times 'I want to succeed here, I want to win trophies here'."
Alli has matched Paul Scholes' 16 goals in his first 50 Premier League games, while Gerrard hit two and Lampard five in the respective openings of their careers.
The former MK Dons midfielder has fast become one of Spurs' - and England's - top stars, with Pochettino accepting Jamie Redknapp's recent £50m valuation.
"I think he is in a very good way, at a very good level, if you compare with this type of player, they were great, fantastic players," said Pochettino of Alli's goal return in comparison to Scholes, Gerrard and Lampard.
"He needs to keep going that way, because he's showing now he can be one of the best players in England.
"The moment was right when we signed him, and it was a very important deal for Tottenham.
"I don't know if the best bargain was Gareth Bale or Modric or Alli, but it's true it was a very good deal for us when we signed him."
Asked if Alli is a £50million player, Pochettino continued: "Yes, why not.
"Today Dele Alli is showing a quality, a talent that it's difficult to find in Europe at 20 years old."
Tottenham will take on Watford at Vicarage Road on New Year's Day, desperate for their fourth-straight Premier League victory.
Pochettino joked that Watford mascot Harry the Hornet would not have the guts to try the diving joke that backfired on Wilfried Zaha on Spurs' fiery midfield star Alli.
Crystal Palace boss Sam Allardyce branded the Watford mascot's light-hearted dive in front of Zaha following last weekend's 1-1 draw as "out of order".
"I think the mascot would be scared to do it in front of Alli," joked Pochettino.
"If I put myself in Palace's shoes I can understand why they were upset.
"It was funny for the Watford supporters, but it was a stupid action, a stupid thing.
"We need to be careful with that, because in that situation you can upset people for a stupid thing.
"But, OK, it was the mascot trying to be funny but he doesn't realise it could be a big problem.
"You need to laugh, no? Because the mascot is being funny with people and trying to encourage the crowd.
"Maybe he'll learn from that situation - or maybe they'll change the mascot!"