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Alli could break Neymar's record next year, says transfers expert

Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli could replace Neymar as the world's most expensive footballer if he impresses for club and country this season.

Paris Saint-Germain rocked the footballing world by buying Brazil superstar Neymar from Barcelona for €222million last month.

He continued a flying start to life with the Ligue 1 club by scoring in Tuesday's 5-0 Champions League rout of Celtic.

By contrast, Alli will be sidelined through suspension when Spurs begin their campaign against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, but football finance expert Raffaele Poli believes the 21-year-old is as well-placed as anyone to topple Neymar's status as the most expensive footballer in history.

Poli is the head of the Football Observatory at the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES), a Swiss-based study centre that published research in June estimating Neymar to have a market value of €210.7m – a shade below the buyout clause PSG staggeringly activated.

The CIES placed Alli and Spurs team-mate Harry Kane next in their standings at that stage and Poli told Omnisport that Neymar's record could be short-lived if such players impress on the big stage and decide it is time for a change of scenery.

"Potentially it can be broken already next year," he said.

"A player like Dele Alli – if he does well, if he does a good domestic league with Tottenham, if he does a good Champions League campaign, if he does a good World Cup with England next year then I wouldn't be surprised if he could be transferred for more than Neymar's price.

"This wouldn't be a sign of inflation by itself. It depends on how he performs, but Neymar was not the most inflated transfer during the last window."

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The latest CIES figures value Alli at €182.6m, a shade below Lionel Messi's €184m, using an algorithm based on analysis of more than 1,500 fee-paying transfers that is updated after every window.

Poli is keen to point out that such blockbusting transfers will remain the preserve of elite players and are therefore not the most effective way of demonstrating inflation across the market.

"There were other transfers like Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele or Benjamin Mendy to Manchester City that were more inflated than the Neymar one," he explained, in reference to the CIES findings.

"A high price does not mean high inflation. It depends on the characteristics of the players.

"The surprise was not the price, it was that Neymar accepted to change teams because at first glance he was very well at Barcelona.

"At the current inflation it is possible to have €200m transfer every summer but that does not mean it will happen. There are only a few players that can have this value and it is up to these players to say 'okay, I want to move' or not."