Tottenham Hotspur is not among the richest clubs in world football.
This statement should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the club as the Lilywhites are not renowned for a lavish player spending policy.
As Tottenham build their new stadium and continue to progress under Mauricio Pochettino, their status as a football club is quickly changing.
The on-field changes are happening at the same pace as the off-field developments. As the status of the club and its players rises, the footballers responsible for this progress will expect their wages to rise accordingly.
This is not always possible, with Toby Alderweireld the latest to come into conflict the club, reportedly unhappy over contract negotiations. The Belgian follows teammate Danny Rose, who voiced concerns over wages and the club’s investment in transfers during an exclusive interview with The Sun.
Likewise, Kyle Walker reportedly doubled his weekly salary when he made the move from White Hart Lane to the Etihad last summer.
Nonetheless, while the wage structure at Tottenham is a well-documented concern for the club’s long-term success, there is an underlying cause for concern at the club: the sidelining of the those who are reportedly ‘unsettled’.
Alderweireld has been out injured for a large portion of the season. However, he is now seemingly back and match-fit. Despite Pochettino’s recent assertions that he is being left out due to the form of his centre-back teammates, he has not been handed a Premier League start since he returned to fitness in January.
The defender started games for his national side during the recent international break, only to not even be named on the bench against Chelsea on Easter Sunday or the club’s more recent victory over Stoke City.
Many have argued Pochettino may not want to risk the defender. However, teammate Harry Kane played in the last 15 minutes despite suggestions that he would be a World Cup doubt less than three weeks ago.
If Toby Alderweireld has lost his place due to the contract conflict it will follow a worrying trend of Pochettino’s treatment of players who have “stepped out of line”.
Former defender Kyle Walker reportedly stated his intention to leave the club mid title race last season. The now Manchester City player was way out of line and he should’ve been punished.
On the flipside, if punishing him weakens the team then is it in the clubs interests to punish him?
Following the reported altercation, the English fullback started just one of the remaining five games. Walker still made team of the year that season but Pochettino preferred Kieran Trippier during the closing weeks of the season.
A similar situation has happened to fellow full-back Danny Rose this season. Following the England international’s public condemnation of the clubs transfer policy in an interview with The Sun, he has started only six Premier League games all season.
Rose has had an injury at the start of the season. The English man has been fit since around November but has rarely featured. Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies are both good, solid players. However, compared to last seasons PFA team of the season’s full-back choices, they shouldn’t be getting in the starting-XI.
Davison Sanchez is a better alternative to Alderweireld than Trippier and Davies are to Walker and Rose. However, can any team really afford to lose their best full backs or centre-back, players widely heralded the best in their positions in the Premier League?
In the case of Alderwerield and Rose, both have fallen out of favour during a World Cup year. It not in their interests to not give 100% for the club. Both players must ensure they are fit and in form to make their respective nations world cup squads.
Regardless, if they play or not they still get paid. If they are not contributing on the pitch then who is benefiting from this policy from Pochettino? The most likely rationale for this strategy is the club sending out a clear message as to how ” troublemakers” will be treated.
The major flaw in this plan is how would a Harry Kane be treated? Every other Tottenham player has a close replacement in terms of style or ability except for Kane. Llorente is the only other natural striker in the Tottenham first-team and the Spaniard struggles to make the squad most weeks.
Winger Heung Min Son was preferred to the former Swansea man during Kane’s recent injury. If Kane, or someone as irreplaceable, gets in a similar position, does Pochettino bench a 25+ goal a season striker in favour of a winger, or does he make himself a hypocrite?