Toby Alderweireld has a £25million release clause in his Tottenham Hotspur contract.
This is an established fact, brought into the public eye after Spurs exercised an option to extend his deal to the end of next season.
Thus the Belgium international could leave the club for a fraction of his worth if a club decides to trigger the clause this summer. It should also be made clear that any club, including Arsenal, Chelsea and West Ham, could choose to trigger that clause and Spurs would not be able to stand in Alderweireld’s way.
He would, of course, have to agree to personal terms but the point remains that we may well see a repeat of the Sol Campbell saga that saw him complete a free transfer from Spurs to Arsenal in 2001.
It feels like a monumental mistake from chairman Daniel Levy. He could still negotiate a new deal with Alderweireld but, at this stage, it appears unlikely.
The furore surrounding his clause was brought into sharper focus in the past few days, as Alderwerield turned in a superb display against Manchester City in the Champions League.
In the quarter-final first leg, the Belgian was at his cool, imposing best alongside compatriot Jan Vertonghen in the heart of Mauricio Pochettino’s defence.
Per WhoScored, Alderweireld had a 100% tackle completion rate and made six clearances, more than any other Spurs player. He also won two aerial duels and kept Sergio Aguero quiet throughout the game. Across the 90 minutes, the Argentine had three shots and one of those was the penalty that was saved by Hugo Lloris after Danny Rose was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area. Neither of the other two were on target.
Indeed, the Argentine had just 18 touches of the ball throughout his time on the pitch, markedly less than any other City player and the fewest of any player to start the game. Gabriel Jesus was eventually introduced to replace him.
This is the value Alderweireld offers. He is a world-class centre-back, an elite player operating at the absolute peak of his powers.
And he could leave the club for £25m in the summer. To put that into context, Fulham bought Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa for a fee of £30m last summer, while Bournemouth paid £25m to recruit Jefferson Lerma. It is a pittance in the current transfer market.
The best central defender in the league is undoubtedly Virgil van Dijk and he cost Liverpool £75m. Alderweireld should be moving for a figure in that bracket and he proved that against City.
Yes, he is 30, but this is a player who has everything one would want from a top-tier centre-back and he is available for a third of the price of the Reds centre-back.
With the second leg at the Etihad Stadium looming, Alderweireld can give the club another reminder of his worth. A repeat performance from the first leg, where he keeps Aguero quiet, and Spurs keep a clean sheet, would normally send his value soaring.
Instead, it would send a jolt through Levy, who could see one of the very best defenders Spurs have ever had walk away for a fraction of his true value.
He had better hope that he doesn’t decide to stay in English football if he leaves Spurs…
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