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Battle for Spurs-linked Belgian heats up as Atletico buys out Southampton loan

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It's on like Donkey Kong.

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur got a huge boost in its pursuit of Atletico Madrid defender Toby Alderweireld, if the Mirror is to believed. There's a report today that the Spanish club has backed out of its loan agreement with Southampton, meaning that Alderweireld will be sold to the highest bidder.

Atletico Madrid had a deal to loan Alderweireld back to Southampton, but could back out of that deal by paying Soton £1.5m, which is what they have allegedly done. This is big for a couple of reasons: 1) it means that Spurs is likely serious about bidding for the Belgian central defender, and 2) it means that Atletico has been convinced that they can get more money for the sale of Alderweireld by paying the fee than the £6.8m they'd get from Soton next summer.

Obviously, the club is hoping that this will spark a bidding war between the two English clubs for the Belgian's services. I'm not sure if that will happen, but it will severely test Southampton's ability to land Alderweireld. As good as they have been in the transfer market the past couple of seasons, Soton really can't hang financially with the likes of Spurs. If they decide to draw a line in the sand over Toby, then things could get interesting. Otherwise, this puts Spurs firmly in the driver's seat. I'd expect an opening bid of around £10m from Spurs, but it could end up higher.

I'm still a big fan of signing Toby, so this is kind of exciting news. He's already said that he'd like to play alongside his Belgian teammate Jan Vertonghen, which is nice to hear. Hopefully this is a deal that can get wrapped up quickly as players are now starting the preseason, and so Spurs can go back to hopefully signing a top-class central midfielder.