The night before Dele Alli scored his goal of the Season contender against Crystal Palace, there was furtive talk at Fourfourtwo Towers of putting the Spurs star on the cover.
But while he’d been one of the best young players in the Premier League this season – oh, and scored on his first England start – the consensus was that he hadn’t quite done enough yet. He needed a defining moment.
Sure enough, that moment arrived 24 hours later at Selhurst Park; a touch, turn and hit which gave Spurs three points and led manager Mauricio Pochettino, normally understated in everything he does, to claim the goal would be ‘shown on every TV around the world’. Dele Alli had arrived and it was time to tell his story. The MK Dons graduate hasn’t been the only unexpected star of this Premier League season, though. At Leicester, Riyad Mahrez has been arguably the division’s most outstanding player, Dimitri Payet has been lauded by West Ham fans (he’s better than Zidane, according to the chant) and Hector Bellerin has turbo-charged Arsenal’s title chase. We’ve spoken to them all in this interview-packed issue. Enjoy!