Dele Alli is not fazed by criticism of his form this season, insisting he is only motivated by the standards he sets for himself.
The Tottenham midfielder – who played 82 minutes in England’s 2-1 win over Nigeria on Saturday – scored nine Premier League goals in 2017-18, half the amount he managed in the previous campaign.
However, Alli has a different view of how his season has gone and is refusing to be distracted by the “noise” around his form ahead of the World Cup.
“Everyone has different opinions,” he said. “If this is a ‘bad season’ for me then I’m happy to take that as a compliment.
“The only pressure I feel is the pressure I put on myself.
“I am my own biggest critic. If you have the right focus, everything else is just noise.
“My focus is on being the best player I can be – when you expect that from yourself no one can expect more from you.
“I’ve worked hard to get this far but there’s always room for improvement.
“I’m sure if you asked Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, the two best players in the world, they would say they can improve on something.
“I want to keep on improving, I’m working with a good manager in Mauricio Pochettino who is hungry to help every player.”
Alli has gained a reputation as someone who plays on the edge, but insists he will have no issues keeping a cool head at Russia 2018.
“I wouldn’t say it’s something I’ve worked on,” he said. “I am a big believer that you have to make mistakes to learn from them anyway.
“And, yeah, I feel I learned from the things I did before, but it’s not something I worry about at all.
“Obviously, I’ve done some things before and people seem to think that will be a problem – but it’s not.
“I feel I’ve got everything under control.”