When Southampton got pissy over the sale of Toby Alderweireld to Tottenham Hotspur last week, it was assumed by many that this was just a sour-grapes attempt to throw a monkey wrench into the gears rather than a serious attempt to exercise a breach of contract dispute. Turns out they might have been right. Sky Sports is reporting that Southampton is dropping all threats of legal action against Alderweireld's former club Atletico Madrid.
The crux of the issue stemmed from Southampton's belief that they were supposed to have been given the first option to sign the player from Atletico, based on his season long loan to the club last year. The threats of lawsuits were procedural in nature, and based on their belief that Atletico did not cancel out of their sale agreement in the time frame dictated by the contract. However, once it became clear that Alderweireld preferred signing with Tottenham (a fact that was in dispute for a long time in social media circles), they started walking that entire line of reasoning back. Now they're not even going after Atletico at all. Said Soton executive director Les Reed:
"There's nothing to sue Atletico for because we could have had a deal in place, and I have to say Atletico have been exceptionally professional all the way through.
"Whilst the legal representatives from both sides were discussing the pros and cons of a legal argument, I was having very good conversations with them about the potential of making a market price offer and sealing a transfer for Toby.
"But it was the fact that Toby had decided to go to Spurs, regardless of contract salary and everything else, that meant that it was pointless trying to take any more legal action, because our argument was then not with Atletico."
That sound you hear is that of Southampton slowly melting back into the hedge. Toward the end of the process, Reed was discussing out-bidding Spurs, but it was made clear that Toby wanted to sign for Tottenham and there was nothing they could do, so they backed down. Basically, and as we mentioned, Toby held all the cards and dictated where he wanted to go. Southampton got their £1.5m for having their contract cancelled, and wisely decided not to force the issue.
We could point and laugh, but who cares? We got what we wanted. At least now we know that there aren't any additional loose ends from this deal. It's over now, time to move on.