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If all media sources are to be believed, Toby Alderweireld is a man in demand. The Belgian international defender is on the radar of Chelsea and Tottenham as well as Southampton – the club where he spent last season on loan.
Saints boss Ronald Koeman is keen to bring the 26-year-old to St. Mary’s on a full-time basis but the lure of a move to one of the London clubs could scupper his plans. The centre-back has been enjoying his honeymoon in Bali after which he will return to Atletico Madrid until a deal can be agreed.
So what is all the fuss about? And what would be the best destination for the highly-rated defensive specialist this summer?
The player fitted in well on the South Coast and appears ready and willing to make the permanent switch. He also has a good relationship with the manager and would be an important figure at the club. Southampton are also confident that they have sufficient funds available to secure his services.
During his 26 appearances for the Hampshire team last term, the former Ajax player developed an excellent understanding with defensive partner and club captain Jose Fonte. In fact, the duo’s defensive record was second only to that of Chelsea’s during the 2014/15 campaign.
Atletico would like to send the player to Chelsea as part of a deal to bring Felipe Luis back to the Vicente Calderon, but it is unclear whether the Chelsea hierarchy share this desire. The draw of playing in the Champions League for the current English champions may be enough to turn the defenders head – however, he may not be guaranteed a starting place under Blues’ boss Jose Mourinho.
A high volume of goals against was one of the main reasons that the Tottenham failed to challenge for a Champions League spot last term. Having already snapped up Kevin Wimmer and Kieran Trippier, Spurs’ boss Mauricio Pochettino is still looking to strengthen his defence and is keen to pair Alderweireld with international colleague Jan Vertonghen.
When comparing his statistics with the top defenders currently playing at the interested clubs, you could make case for his inclusion in both teams. Gary Cahill was guilty of four defensive errors last season and his overall defensive stats are only marginally better than the Belgians.
Alderweireld did not commit any defensive errors and was far more effective in supporting the attacking line. In fact, when compared to John Terry, Gary Cahill and Jan Vertonghen, only the Chelsea captain was more effective when in possession.
When it comes to matching his style of play – Southampton seems to be the perfect fit. So, it might be a case of ‘better the devil you know’ for the former Ajax academy player.
Written by Neil Morris
Follow Neil on Twitter @nmorris01
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