Toby Alderweireld has been an anchor of Tottenham Hotspur’s back line since he joined the club in 2015.
Alderweireld settled in seamlessly in central defense after he came to North London from Atletico Madrid following a year on loan at Southampton. He has formed partnerships, with fellow Belgian Jan Vertonghen and with Davinson Sanchez, that have helped Spurs to one of the best defensive records in the Premier League.
But despite all that, Alderweireld is now set for a summer departure. The club announced on Friday that they had officially taken the option to extend Toby’s contract by a year.
The Club can confirm that we have activated the option to extend @AlderweireldTob’s contract until 2020.— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) January 4, 2019
Contract extensions are usually good news, but this isn’t one of those cases. The activation of this option means that a release clause is also activated for the upcoming summer transfer window. An offer of £25 million would require Spurs to agree to sell the player.
Alderweireld is clearly worth a good bit more than £25 million, so it seems like this summer will be the end of his time at Spurs.
Tottenham and the 29-year-old had been in on-and-off negotiations over a new long term deal for a while, but nothing has materialized. Alderweireld was reportedly asking for £180k/week, but Daniel Levy and company were only willing to pay him around £130k/week. Thus, a new deal was never agreed.
Theoretically, the two parties could still agree on a new contract and avoid the release clause coming into play, but Tottenham are apparently “resigned” to losing Alderweireld, according to a report from Ben Pearce of ESPNFC.
“Tottenham are increasingly resigned to losing Toby Alderweireld after taking up their option to extend his contract by a year until 2020 ... Alderweireld is reluctant to discuss a new deal and with the player turning 30 in March, sources said the club feel £25m would be a good fee for a player who cost them just £11.5m in July 2015.”
He’ll be 30 in March, but he is still in the prime of his career and should have interest from some of the biggest clubs in Europe. Pearce’s article mentions Barcelona and Manchester United as two possible suitors.
Alderweireld’s departure would leave a hole in central defense for Spurs, but he isn’t irreplaceable. Jan Vertonghen is just as good as Alderweireld, if not better. Davinson Sanchez gets better every day, and young Juan Foyth has shown promise when called upon in the Premier League. Spurs will probably be more concerned with losing Christian Eriksen this summer as he would be much more difficult to replace.
Still, it will be sad to see Toby go. He helped inject stability and order into a Tottenham defense at a time when they desperately needed it.