Wednesday 21 August 2019

Alderweireld the bargain of the summer - so why is he still at Tottenham?

Toby Alderweireld. Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images
Toby Alderweireld. Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Matt Law

It looked the easiest deal of the summer and yet Toby Alderweireld's £25million release clause expired this week, leaving the Tottenham Hotspur defender to consider whether to run down his final year or sign a new contract.

Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman, will now tell any interested club that Alderweireld's price is £40m, which further increases the prospect of him starting the season in Mauricio Pochettino's side.

The obvious question is: why? Why do Manchester United think Harry Maguire is worth £55m more than Alderweireld? Why did Manchester City not turn to him after deciding they would go no higher than £65m for Maguire? And why have one of Europe's top clubs not seized on the opportunity to sign the central defender?

Perhaps the easiest of those questions to answer is that of City, whose signing of Spanish midfielder Rodri filled their foreign quota for their Premier League and Champions League squads.

City are now under pressure to make sure any further additions are home-grown, which in part explains the possibility of a move for Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake. The Holland international qualifies as home-grown, thanks to his Chelsea upbringing.

United's stance is more difficult to explain. Alderweireld has been on a list of their back-up options to Maguire, but several pundits and observers believe he should have been their first choice.

Certainly his age counted against him. At 30, Alderweireld is four years older than Maguire and would want at least £200,000-a-week, which is considerably more than Maguire would demand.

But even a difference of around £5m-a-year in wages would make up only £20m, spread over four years, of the £55m more United would have to spend on Maguire in comparison to what they could have acquired Alderweireld for.

To put the fee set in the clause into context, Aston Villa agreed a deal worth £26.5m for Tyrone Mings and Brighton and Burnley put £40m valuations on Lewis Dunk and James Tarkowski.

There is, of course, no guarantee Alderweireld would have wanted to leave Tottenham for United, given Spurs reached last season's Champions League final and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team will this season compete in the Europa League.

Similarly, Roma's interest was not deemed worth fighting over and the Italians could never afford to put together an attractive package.

Juventus might have managed to turn Alderweireld's head, but signed 19-year-old Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax.

The likelihood of Alderweireld staying at Spurs has been welcomed by fans, but it may not represent such good news for Pochettino and Levy if he does not extend his contract.

Elsewhere, United will have to fork out at least €20m for Nathan Collins after the Irish teen agreed a new long-term contract extension with Stoke City.

The towering 18-year-old defender has become a transfer target for United on the back of a recommendation by their former midfielder Darren Fletcher.

The Scot was on the books at Stoke last season when Collins came to the fore by making three Championship appearances in the final month. Potters boss Nathan Jones has spoken of his intention to involve the Dubliner more regularly this season. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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