It seems increasingly likely that Tottenham will sell their central defender Toby Alderweireld in the summer.
Spurs have offered the Belgian international a new contract, but Alderweireld has so far refused to commit himself to the club, knowing that he can earn far more elsewhere, with some of Europe’s biggest clubs being interested in signing the centre-back.
Alderweireld has a year left on his contract, with the club having the option to extend that by a year to 2020. However, the contract states that should Tottenham choose to extend the deal, Alderweireld would be available for a £25m release clause in the summer of 2019.
So if Spurs are to sell the player, it really must be this summer if they are to recoup any sort of fee that reflects his value to them. They must now decide whether they should do that, or accept the player’s demands.
There are arguments to be made for either cause of action. On one hand Alderweireld has proved himself to be one of the finest central defenders in the Premier League. In the short-term his absence would weaken Tottenham, who are likely to replace him with a young player with promise, rather than a similarly established star.
Having lost Kyle Walker last summer and with Danny Rose also unsettled, Tottenham are taking a gamble in breaking up what was the best defensive unit in the Premier League. What’s more, Alderweireld had a very strong understanding with his fellow central defender Jan Vertonghen, formed during their time together at Ajax.
There is also the matter of what the Spurs fans would make of a key player being sold in the same summer as they move into a new stadium. With ticket prices having been significantly increased, fans would be entitled to expect that the extra money generated might allow the club to break their tight wage structure.
Yet there are also counter arguments to giving Alderweireld the contract he wants. He’s now 29-years old and in the last two seasons has missed 38 games through injury. Tottenham will have to eventually pay big wages if they are to retain their best players, but those salaries might be more wisely invested in younger players whose fitness is more reliable. These are the type of tough decisions that the club must get right as they want to seriously start competing for the Premier League title and European honours, at a time when a new stadium is being built and finances are tight.
Then there is the fact that Mauricio Pochettino’s team has coped pretty well without Alderweireld this season. He’s only made 17 appearances and in his absence Davison Sanchez has shone. The 21-year old Colombian is still guilty of making the odd mistake, but for a player so young he’s done very well in his first season in the Premier League.
With Eric Dier also able to play in central defence, Spurs are in a position of strength when it comes to selling Alderweireld and bringing in a replacement. They already have three players that they trust to play at centre-back, giving any new signing time to adapt.
Had Alderweireld remained fit over the past couple of seasons, then perhaps he would be the one a holding the cards when it came to renegotiating a new contract. Instead, the club has been given the opportunity to see what life would be like without him and it’s not proved to be as bad as once feared.
To hand Alderweireld a long, lucrative contract at a time when his fitness appears to be declining, would be a big risk and we all know that Daniel Levy doesn’t like taking those. A summer transfer for Alderweireld is surely on the cards, especially as that would give the club the opportunity to ensure that he’s sold to a non-Premier League club such as Barcelona, PSG or Real Madrid.
So what’s your verdict? Is now the right time to cash in on an ageing player whose fitness and desire to play for the club are debatable? Or should Tottenham do what it takes to keep hold of a player who at his best is world class? Let us know in the comments section below.