Following comments made by his advisor, as reported by The Sun, it appears that Tottenham Hotspur may struggle to keep Toby Alderweireld at the club much longer.
In the article, Stijn Francis, who represents the player, states that Spurs “Must offer better terms or let him leave” and claims up to eight “Big European clubs” are interested in the 28-year-old.
The comments arrive at an interesting time – shortly after the Summer transfer window – suggesting that the player is not exactly forcing a move. Instead, it appears that the Belgian is happy at Spurs but believes his qualities and importance to the club warrant a larger wage.
To an extent, it is difficult to disagree.
Last season, Alderweireld played 2,604 Premier League minutes for the club (7 team-mates amassed more) and started every fixture he was available for. If not for injury/illness that forced him to miss eight matches, he would have been the side’s most used player, as he was during the 15/16 season.
Although appearances alone do not demonstrate importance and value, the fact Spurs managed their greatest Premier League finish of second with him featuring arguably does. Since the Belgian’s arrival in 2015, the club has finished 3rd and 2nd, whilst he played an integral role.
Part of the issue with asking for improved terms at Spurs is the club’s wage structure, which has commendably been stuck to despite the money being thrown around by other teams. In this respect, Tottenham actually offer one of Europe’s highest wages, but the best players can earn 200% more playing for their domestic and European rivals.
The most frequent, and arguably fairest, comparison for Alderweireld is to compatriot and club-mate Jan Vertonghen, who he usually plays alongside in defence. Vertonghen has been at the club for three years longer and is believed to receive £100,000-a-week compared to his centre-back partner’s £75,000.
When looking at the stats, Vertonghen, now 30, comes out on top. Last season he had an Aerial duel success of 75%, a total duel win rate of 68% and 49 interceptions to his name. Alderweireld’s numbers (in the same order) stood at 52%, 50% and 24 – he played just 293 minutes less. In other areas such as tackles the two are almost identical.
Nevertheless, the two have undoubtedly built a successful partnership which has been a major part of Spurs’ recent relative success – should one of them be paid 33% more?
Mauricio Pochettino regularly plays with a back three including Eric Dier, meaning that the squad requires good depth in the position. Recently, Kevin Wimmer played the role of back-up. However, he has since been sold to Stoke.
In his place, Spurs have splashed £35 million on Davinson Sanchez from Ajax – a player who may force his way into the first team. Last season Sanchez’s stats are comparable to those of Alderweireld, but the Eredivisie is not the same standard as the Premier League – as Vincent Janssen’s struggles prove.
Because of this, it is difficult to see how Spurs could afford to let Alderweireld leave, as him doing so would certainly weaken the squad and most likely strengthen a rival.
The club faces another wage-related challenge. It is unlikely that they will activate his extension whilst it contains the surprisingly low £25.4 million release clause. Therefore, a compromise needs to be found, ideally in the next 12 months.
A new contract would suit both parties, providing that Alderweireld is content with a wage increase in-keeping with Spurs’ existing wage structure – no player receives more than £120,000 a week after bonuses.
If he isn’t, the club will need a replacement and prepare to sell. Sanchez could prove to be a long-term heir to the position, but the squad would still be lacking in quality and depth if the Belgian to depart anytime soon.