Toby Alderweireld is, according to reports, close to leaving Tottenham this summer. The Belgian has seen his contract negotiations fall through, with wages apparently the catalyst for this. The centre-back has established himself as one of the world’s best defenders since signing for Spurs in 2015. Alderweireld will have no shortage of suitors despite his injury hit season. He allegedly has a buy-out clause in his contract should he enter the last year of it, with a figure of £25 million being touted about by the media. As Tottenham can get over twice that amount this summer, it is highly likely he will be sold should contract negotiations stay dormant.
Can Tottenham Lose Toby Alderweireld?
Toby Alderweireld Fixing Tottenham’s Defence
Before Alderweireld’s arrival, Tottenham’s defence had a chaotic reputation to say the least. The season before he arrived, Tottenham had conceded 53 goals in the Premier League. The season he joined, that number fell to 35 and last season the club only conceded 26 goals, which is under half what they conceded in 2014/15. Alderweireld has formed an impressive partnership with countryman Jan Vertonghen. The Belgian duo have established themselves as one of the fiercest partnerships in European football. Despite Vertonghen’s fine form without Alderweireld this season, and the addition of the impressive Davinson Sanchez, any loss of Alderweireld will be detrimental to the club’s aims and ambitions.
It’s pretty much an accepted fact that Spurs don’t have the financial muscle to compete with the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City and Paris St-Germain off the pitch. When a player asks for £180,000 a week at Tottenham, it’s unlikely they’ll get it. Many fans have been angry at this fact for a while and grow frustrated at Tottenham’s lack of investment. Unfortunately for the club, the Alderweireld rumours leaked at the same time as they announced the prices of the season tickets for next season.
The new prices have not gone down well, with many fans accusing the club of pricing out the clubs core fan base and choosing profit over the club’s working class supporters who have stuck with them for years through thick and thin. The timing of these two announcements have severely hampered the club’s position to try and rationalise the decision to potentially allow Alderweireld to leave.
As Tottenham have only recently broken the £100,000 weekly wage barrier for players, it is almost certain they won’t entertain Alderweireld’s demands. Should they give in to those demands, then multiple other Spurs stars will be demanding pay parity with the Belgian. On top of financing the new stadium, the idea of an 80% wage increase for multiple players at the top end of the wage structure is simply out of the question. Tottenham fans are understandably frustrated with this set of circumstances and the club’s ticket pricing policy has only served to add salt to the wounds.
In the ever increasingly likely event that Alderweireld leaves, Tottenham will struggle to replace him. Alderweireld is arguably among the top five players in the world in his position and anyone saying that Tottenham won’t miss him is extremely naive. The odds of Tottenham being able to attract or afford a direct replacement are very slim. The North London sides best bet is to use their great youth development reputation that they have under Mauricio Pochettino and try and attract a young talent.
The likes of Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt, Johnathan Tah of Bayer Leverkusen and Swansea’s Alfie Mawson all fit the young talented, ball-playing centre-back criteria the club has targeted in recent years. Both have high potential and under Pochettino’s coaching could become world class. Neither are at Alderweireld’s level yet though so to sign one would have to be accompanied by a more experienced head. Jonny Evans at West Bromwich Albion could serve as a good stop gap for a season or two while the younger players develop. The Northern Irishman has years of Premier League and International experience and could do a job short term.