All summer Tottenham Hotspur fans have been dealing with transfer speculation concerning current players potentially leaving Spurs for other clubs. First it was the Kyle Walker to Manchester City rumors (which were ultimately borne out). Danny Rose was linked with Manchester United after his interview with the Sun, but that seems to have died away lately.
Now, eyes turn to Spurs center back Toby Alderweireld, who’s ongoing contract negotiation is starting to ramp up. Toby is one of the last members of Spurs’ starting XI not to have his contract extended and improved since he was signed from Atletico Madrid in 2015. Now, his agent Stijn Francis is speaking to the press about Toby’s contract situation for the first time, telling Belgian paper Nieuwsblad that Spurs need to either commit to giving Toby a new deal, or sell him. (Quotes courtesy of Dan Kilpatrick of ESPN)
“Toby is always good. Even after his injury he recovered well -- Tottenham's statistics fell sharply during his absence. If you only look at his figures, Toby is impressive. And for his performances, he deserves either a correct contract from Tottenham or a transfer.
"For a transfer, you know that he can only leave Tottenham for seven or eight teams. Almost all the other top clubs are interested in Toby. There are not a lot of central defenders of his kind so they are sought after. But those clubs also know that they have to negotiate with [Tottenham chairman] Daniel Levy."
Alderweireld is under contract with Spurs through the 2018-19 season, but the club can exercise an option to extend his contract for a further year. Should they do so, however, a clause in his contract kicks in whereby he will then have a release clause of £25m. There have been rumors about negotiations for a new contract that stretch back to last spring, but Toby has denied that he was in the process of negotiations. He’s reportedly making £75k/week on his current deal.
So before anyone gets upset at Toby’s agent for saying these things, it’s important to remember that this is what agents do. It’s literally Francis’ job to get his client the best possible deal that he can, and part of that includes potentially going to the press and saying that there are other parties interested in his client’s services. It’s also true — Dan Kilpatrick says today that Manchester City are monitoring the situation and are ready to capitalize on any disputes that might happen in the future.
The story here isn’t that Francis said something to the press, it’s that he’s apparently frustrated enough at Spurs that he felt like he needed to escalate the situation. If you want to be concerned about this, that’s probably the angle you want to focus on. We have no idea what the hang-up is, but we can guess: a multi-year contract with a significant pay raise, and Levy also probably wants that release clause stripped out too.
My gut feeling is that this will end up resolving with Toby getting a big new contract with a healthy bump in pay, but contracts are complicated things. One thing we know is that this story isn’t going to be going away until Toby puts pen to paper, either with Spurs, or somewhere else.