There can be little doubt that Toby Alderweireld is one of the best defenders in the Premier League, if not Europe. Since last Summer, Tottenham Hotspur have been in protracted contract talks with the Belgian defender with no side seemingly budging. Tottenham want to give the player a new contract, the player wants more money than is on offer. This week, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino revealed that the opportunity to trigger a contract extension to 2020 is being used by the club. The player’s current deal is due to expire at the end of this season.
On the face of it, this appears to be a good bit of business for Spurs, but is triggering Alderweirled’s extension a good deal or potentially a bad move for Spurs?
Bold or Not? Triggering Alderweireld’s Contract Extension
The situation with Alderweireld’s contract is straightforward. Presently, he is not signing a new deal. Spurs have not confirmed or denied as to whether those talks are ongoing. Spurs fans have grown restless at the lack of progress with the situation. Now there is at least confirmation that the contract extension will be triggered meaning that he remains at Spurs until 2020 at least, but this being Tottenham, things are never that straightforward.
Could Triggering Alderweireld’s Extension Speed up Departure?
When a player signs a new contract it would be expected that adds security to the club keeping hold of star assets. Manchester United have been linked with Alderweireld for over a year but were unwilling to consider Spurs’ summer £60 million valuation of the player. Rumours suggested that United were planning a January raid for him again but that may well be on hold after the sacking of Jose Mourinho. What the extension definitely means is that Alderweireld has a £25 million release clause in his contract. This is valid up until the last fortnight of the summer transfer window. Spurs have stated that despite the numerous rumours, there was never any official offer received for the player in the summer.
Does the Clause Mean Alderweireld Can Leave for £25 Million?
In such situations, there can be confusion as to what the clause actually means. Does it mean that the player can leave for £25 million or is that just the starting price? If it was the starting price, then triggering Alderweireld’s extension would strengthen the hand of Daniel Levy, but it actually means that a club can come in and buy the player for £25 million. That is all dependent on the player wanting to leave, of course. The situation weakens Spurs’ hand and to lose such a player for just £25 million has not gone down well with the Spurs faithful.
Lack of Ambition?
Tottenham have lost their best players in the past, with some praising the new income the sales have generated, whilst others despair at what has been seen as a lack of ambition.
Gareth Bale, Dimitar Berbatov and Luka Modric are all players that have graced White Hart Lane only to move on when so-called ‘bigger’ clubs have come calling. However, this is not the same beast. This is Tottenham Hotspur under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino. Daniel Levy, at last, seemingly has full trust and confidence in a manager who has the same aspirations for a club that has been too long without success. Without glory.
As Declan Wiseman wrote for Last Word on Football as the news broke, Spurs still have Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth and whilst neither are the at the level of Alderweireld, they have both shown enough to suggest that they can be as good as the man that they may between them replace come next season. It is understandable that the sale of Alderweireld could be seen as a lack of ambition from Levy and Spurs, but they are so close to gaining the glory they crave that it is tangible.
What Does it All Mean?
Triggering Alderweirld’s extension is a bold statement from Spurs. They are either so confident that he will sign a new, fresh contract or they are testing the resolve of rivals to come and get one of their best players.
Whatever the outcome, Spurs certainly do not lack ambition. You do not build one of the world’s finest training facilities, one of the best grounds in football (when it is finally ready, it will be the envy of many) and give your manager a new improved contract without there being some ambition behind the thinking.
Selling to rivals, though, is not going to be perceived as a positive. What Spurs need to do is to get Alderweireld a new and improved contract. Jan Vertonghen has also had an extension triggered in the last few weeks.
The reality now is that both Vertonghen and Alderweireld are in the sights of clubs around Europe, and rightly so. They are both superb players, of that their can be no doubt.
What will sway decisions will be just how well Spurs can do this season. Currently second in the Premier League, into the Round of 16 of the Champions League and with the FA Cup coming up in January, Spurs can finally prove that the ambition is there and if glory can materialise come May 2019, it is unlikely that Spurs would need to be too concerned about losing anyone. This season, ahead of all others, is pivotal to the future success or near misses of this great football club. The football world, for now, can only watch on and see what happens.