It’s probably safe to say that most Tottenham Hotspur fans were surprised to see Toby Alderweireld wearing a Spurs shirt at the start of the new Premier League season. The subject of a protracted contract standoff and long-standing interest from Manchester United, Alderweireld looked certain to leave the club and for a big fee.
That never materialized, as Spurs demanded £60m (or a smaller deal plus Anthony Martial) in exchange, despite a clause in Toby’s contract that institutes a £25m release clause this summer. However, new reports suggest that Jose Mourinho’s interest in the 29 year old Belgian has not gone away. Writing in the Evening Standard, United beat reporter James Robson noted that Mourinho was in attendance to watch Belgium’s match against Iceland on Thursday, and suggests that United may renew their interest in Alderweireld this January, hoping to tempt Spurs into selling him for more than his £25m, but substantially less than the £60m they demanded this summer.
That idea isn’t that far-fetched. Despite Toby being content to play another season in north London, he also hasn’t seemed to make any overtures towards a new contract with Spurs. It still seems likely that he’ll be sold at some point, maybe this summer for cheap. Mauricio Pochettino has needed Toby badly this year with the injury to Jan Vertonghen, but with fairly strong play from Davinson Sanchez and now the rise of 20-year old Juan Foyth, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Spurs could cash in on Toby in January and trust that their bench will see them through the season.
It would obviously hurt to lose a defender as solid as Alderweireld in the middle of a Premier League season that has been successful, if precarious. If you’re an optimist, a January sale could suggest that there would be additional money to spend on mid-season reinforcements, including another defender to fill Toby’s place. If you’re a pessimist... well, we know what you think about Spurs’ usual January transfer plans.
I don’t know whether the promise of extra funding would be enough to tempt Levy and Pochettino into selling Toby in the mid-season window. It certainly doesn’t appear as though a new contract is coming. It would come down to a cost-benefit analysis as to whether an extra half season of Alderweireld would outweigh any potential United bid. But the prospects of an Alderweireld departure is likely something we’re all going to have to live through for another transfer window, if not longer. Buckle up.