In this second slot of five centre-backs, The Boot Room’s latest instalment in this series examines the best candidates for the top performer at the heart of the defence during the 2015/16 Premier League season. Leave your vote in the poll at the end and help us to choose the final eleven come the end of the campaign.
As is also the case with his international compatriot Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld’s contributions in Spurs’ defensive endeavours have drawn much attention for all of the right reasons. Perhaps to an even greater extent, the former Atlético man has given Pochettino’s side a timely solidity at the back, helping to give the confidence to their attackers to press forward in search of goals.
At the time of writing, Tottenham Hotspur had clocked up ten Premier League clean sheets and Toby Alderweireld was crucial to the vast majority of those. The Belgian is the epitome of composure at the back, even when facing the league’s very best forwards such as Sergio Aguero. He is certainly strong and uncompromising, but often relies on some fantastic reading of the game to anticipate danger rather than reacting to it once it has already developed. Testament to this is his almost complete lack of indiscretions committed on the pitch, averaging a measly 0.3 fouls per game and only collecting three bookings in the 30 matches played to date.
On the ball, Alderweireld is no slouch either. A common sight in games involving the North London outfit is the Belgian picking out long raking diagonal passes to seek out the runs of Harry Kane into the channel, capitalising on the hitman isolating a full-back. This is far from the stereotypical ‘hit and hope’ and helps to form an important part of Spurs’ attacking impetus.
It is clear to see why Southampton were so keen to retain his services after having spent the previous campaign on loan at St Mary’s, but why Atlético were prepared to allow the top performer to leave for pastures new without a great deal of resistance is questionable to say the least. A reported fee of £11.5 million is an absolute steal for a player who has had such an impact on a title-chasing side this year and is destined to only keep improving at a frightening rate.