Remember that £11.5m deal bringing Belgian center back Toby Alderweireld to Tottenham Hotspur that we just announced earlier this morning? It might be time to start walking it back. Several prominent UK sport journalists are reporting via Twitter that Atletico Madrid, who cancelled a loan agreement to Southampton in order to sell Alderweireld to Spurs, apparently did not cancel the agreement in time. Southampton is now threatening to take legal action if the transfer goes through. Press Association's Simon Peach broke the story, and Sky's Lyall Thomas is corroborating it.
#SaintsFC are expecting to sign Toby Alderweireld after Atletico Madrid failed to cancel the buy-out clause in time, PA Sport understands.— Simon Peach (@SimonPeach) July 5, 2015
Atletico could cancel #SaintsFC's £6.8m buy-out clause for Alderweireld by paying them £1.5m - but I understand they did not do so in time.— Simon Peach (@SimonPeach) July 5, 2015
PS At this stage Toby Alderweireld doesn't have preference between Spurs/ Soton. He'd be happy to sign for either; whoever offers best deal— Lyall Thomas (@LyallThomas) July 5, 2015
At issue here is the definition of the agreement between Atletico and Southampton. Soton seems to be claiming that what they have in place is, in effect, a buy-back clause, and not a loan with an option to buy. This buy-back apparently came with an expiration date, and Atletico may have missed it. Atletico thought they had completed their due diligence, and went ahead with the proposal to sell Toby to Spurs. Now things are incredibly complicated and convoluted.
So what does this mean? Well, nobody's really sure. The Star is currently reporting that if Atletico didn't formally break the agreement in time that it paves the way for Southampton to purchase the player for the agreed-upon £6.8m, and there may not be anything that Tottenham can do about it. This scenario, in fact, has been corroborated by The Guardian, which is bad news for Spurs. If Atletico screwed up, and if this is true then they really, truly, seriously screwed the pooch here, then Tottenham's purchase agreement for Alderweireld may not be valid. If he does sign with Spurs, then Soton could pursue legal action.
Any lawsuit brought forth by Southampton would be between Soton and Atletico Madrid, which owns Alderweireld's rights. However, Tottenham are very much involved with this, since they are the ones who have ostensibly agreed to purchase Alderweireld. Could this block the transfer from taking place? Quite possibly. Could it delay the transfer from going through until much later? Very likely.
Ultimately, though the transfer could come down to the desires of Toby Alderweireld. If what they're reporting is true and that he doesn't care ultimately if he ends up at Spurs or Soton, then it could come down to whomever offers him the most money. There's nothing that Southampton, or Tottenham, can do if he decides to go to one club over the other when both of them have had a transfer bid agreed to by Atletico. If Toby wants to go to Spurs, he'll go to Spurs. If he wants to go to Southampton, he'll go there. At the end of the day, Toby has all of the leverage in this situation, and it could simply come down to whatever his decision is. However, this is messy enough that one club or another will likely be owed some sort of compensation.
Details are sketchy at the moment and nobody's sure even if the complaints being brought up by Southampton against Atletico Madrid are even valid. And even if they are, there's currently no indication that Tottenham Hotspur did anything wrong. But as of right now, the agreed-upon transfer for Alderweireld to Spurs is in limbo.
Additional details as we learn more.