Tottenham’s reputation of cashing in on top players at the club is a reputation that has not died with successive top four finishes in the eyes of some. However, I believe the club is past this stage.
Take the sale of Kyle Walker last summer. Some fans were serious when the news broke that the Yorkshireman had been sold to this season’s champions for a hefty £50m. ‘Same old Levy’ and ‘same old Tottenham’ were some of the cries as we watched another top-class player leave North London.
Unfair criticism it turned out to be in my view. Although Kyle Walker wanted to leave Tottenham, according to the Independent, his mind was made up as a result of an ongoing dispute with manager Mauricio Pochettino over fitness. As mentioned in that Independent article, Pochettino doubted Walker’s ability to play two games in one week, something the right-back disagreed with strongly at the time.
The decision to sell the player seemed to be best for both parties. Spurs got their £50m and Walker got to start a fresh with a different manager that maybe doesn’t doubt his fitness in the way Pochettino did. Although it can be viewed as a mistake selling to a direct rival and strengthening their team, the decision seemed to be the correct one to sell Walker. The situation is similar with Toby Alderweireld.
Tottenham had been keen to tie Alderweireld down to a new deal before the end of last season, but negotiations have been in deadlock for some time now. If the player was that keen to sign, he surely would have done so by now.
It has been a frustrating season for the Belgian defender. Not only has he had a couple of fairly lengthy spells out of action due to injury, but he has also seen himself kept out of the team by the solid and effective centre-back partnership of Jan Vertonghen and newcomer Davinson Sanchez. Due to the contract stalemate? Or due to the stellar performances of the pair mentioned before? This is an issue up for debate.
Nonetheless, without Alderweireld, the defensive unit has performed efficiently and effectively over this season, is the Belgian still the integral part of the defence as he once was? Or have we evolved as a team? If the answer to the latter is yes, £50m would be a healthy sum to sell to Manchester United for. However, we are left with the issue of strengthening a direct rival. This is something that needs to be considered carefully by the coaching staff at Spurs, but why not cash in on a player that doesn’t want to commit his long-term future to the club?