Tottenham Hotspur’s “painful rebuild” never really happened despite a few fits and starts after Mauricio Pochettino left the club in 2019. Now it seems like it might actually be starting. The Athletic’s Charlie Eccleshire is reporting this morning that veteran Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld has asked to leave the club after he returns from EURO 2020.
On the one hand this is probably something that should’ve happened years ago. Toby was one of the players who became disillusioned with life under Pochettino the season after Tottenham went to the Champions League final, but made a quick turnaround after the club appointed Jose Mourinho, signing a new deal through the 2023 season. Toby is 32 now, and based on evidence from last season he’s still a solid defender but has lost a bit of the pace and stamina that he had from earlier in his Spurs tenure. It’s not crazy to think that after the appointment of Nuno Espirito Santo, Toby might think it’s time to go. It’s also not crazy for the club to consider it.
On the other hand, it always hurts losing a long time player and servant to the club. The partnership of Toby with Jan Vertonghen in central defense during the peak Pochettino years was one of the highlights of that era, and it’s sad to see that potentially coming to a close. It’s not surprising, but it’s still a punch to the gut.
Eccleshare suggests that Spurs are unlikely to try and prevent a move, which makes sense, saying that there’s interest from Toby’s old club Royal Antwerp, as well as clubs in Spain and Italy. I have no idea what we can expect to get as a transfer fee for a 32 year old defender in this market, but it’s probably not a ton. The good news is that Spurs are actively working on bringing in fresh blood in the back line — the deal for Takehiro Tomiyasu is reportedly well underway and the links between Spurs and Joules Kounde from Sevilla continue to heat up.
Another outgoing transfer deal to keep an eye on as we swiftly careen towards the start of the new season. This one hurts. It’s also probably the right decision.