Transfer rumors are the best. This morning, conflicting reports from soccer journalists have Tottenham Hotspur either the favorites to sign Belgian center back Toby Alderweireld... or behind Southampton and at the mercy of Atletico Madrid.
First the good news: Duncan Castles in the Sunday Times reports that not only are Spurs interested in Alderweireld, but that he has told friends that he is "very close" to joining Tottenham this summer. According to Castles, Spurs have assured him that he would be first choice in central defense, and that he's excited about the prospect of playing alongside Belgium teammate Jan Vertonghen.
The article is behind a paywall, but you can read just enough of the article to get the important points. Duncan Castles has been pretty solid with his Spurs rumors in past years, and while no journo is perfect, his reporting is such that I'd normally give it a great deal of credence.
But now the bad news. Sky Sports journalist Lyall Thomas has thrown cold water on that story, saying on Twitter that any deal is completely down to Atletico Madrid, who owns Alderweireld, and that he's told the club he wants to join Southampton.
Atletico could draw things out all summer in hope of influencing market. But info is Alderweireld has told them he wants to join #SaintsFC— Lyall Thomas (@LyallThomas) June 21, 2015
Also unreported is the fee Alderweireld would command. Atletico bought Toby from Ajax for just over £6m and after the season he's had I'd guess it would likely take at least a £10m bid for his services to land him, and more if there's a bidding war.
So, which one's the truth? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ In point of fact, we don't have any idea what Atletico Madrid will do or where Toby wants to do, and we may not know for a while. And let's not forget that if Atletico Madrid decides to sell to the highest bidder, then Chelsea has also been linked to Toby and would most likely get him if they want him and cost is the only factor.
Alderweireld would be a fantastic addition to Tottenham Hotspur, but let's also not forget that as of right now Spurs have six central defenders: Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier, Federico Fazio, Kevin Wimmer, Younes Kaboul, and Vlad Chiriches. Alderweireld would instantly be in contention for the first 11, but would also mean a very crowded Tottenham back line. Spurs' first two signings have been defenders, indicating that defense is a high priority for Mauricio Pochettino this offseason, but there are other needs in the side as well such as a competent central midfielder and a backup striker to Harry Kane, and Tottenham's finances aren't infinite.
So two conflicting reports on Toby Alderweireld on a Sunday morning. Basically, though, nothing's changed: Spurs are still tenuously linked to Alderweireld as they have been for months. Based on these reports, I'm still unlikely to believe (yet) that they have more than a fleeting chance of securing his services.