Former Premier League title winner Nigel de Jong put beIN Sports presenter Richard Keys in his place during a discussion about Dele Alli.
Alli was selected to start a top-flight game for the first time since the opening day of the season by Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho.
The England midfielder has struggled for game time in recent years, with his performances taking a noticeable dip.
But he was handed a reprieve by Mourinho for Tottenham’s visit to relegation-threatened Fulham, with his selection sparking a heated debate in the beIN Sports studio.
Former Manchester City player de Jong joined presenter Keys for the broadcaster’s coverage of the match, with the Dutchman asked for his thoughts about Alli.
“To us? No. I don’t think he thinks he needs to prove what he’s capable of to us,” de Jong said when asked if Alli had anything to prove.
“He wants to prove to himself and to his manager that he is still the player that he was. That he still has the potential of the player he was at the start of his career at Tottenham.
“With all due respect I think this is a good game for him, against a smaller team. Coming off a great win, they’re full of confidence. So this is the right moment for Mourinho to put Alli back in.”
Keys though was not so sure that Alli would be able to return to the form which saw him selected for England’s 2018 World Cup squad.
“My worry Nigel is, like Mourinho’s I think, is that he’s peaked,” Keys said.
But de Jong then put Keys in his place by giving the presenter a bemused look before saying: “How old is he? He’s what 25?”
After Keys had explained that he does not believe Alli has the right attitude, de Jong went onto explain why Alli is not past his peak.
“I understand what you’re trying to say, but you have to understand, the career of a football player doesn’t always go with success,” the Dutchman said.
“Especially players like that, he’s not at his peak yet, he’s not 27, 28 years old. They always have a season where it can go wrong.
“Of course, I’m not here to defend him, because at the end of the day he has to look at himself, at what he did on the pitch to convince his coach to play him.
“But he’s at this crossroads for himself saying ‘listen, can I be the Dele Alli that I was, or is it time for me to move to a smaller club?’.”
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