Toby Alderweireld: The versatile Belgian a smart, savvy signing for the Rojiblanco

After all the rumours, Toby Alderweireld has finally joined Atletico Madrid. It wasn’t a secret anymore: Alderweireld wanted to leave Ajax this summer. He had informed the club about this and said so publicly on several occasions.

With one year left on his contract, and aged 24, he felt this was the right moment for him to make the step up from the Eredivisie.

The Belgium international joined Ajax almost 10 years ago, aged just 15. He went through all the youth ranks, and finally grew into the defensive leader of the Dutch side. He won the league three times with Ajax and played countless Champions League games.

But since the start of the summer, he was looking for a new club. Alderweireld rejected Spartak Moscow a couple of times, and a few other Russian teams. He stated that he wasn’t interested in money, and that Champions League and game time were the essential factors for him.

Voetbal International, the leading Dutch football magazine, reported more than once that Liverpool and Everton were interested in the Belgian defender. And for a long time, Liverpool did indeed look as the favoured destination for him. But after all, Liverpool bought Sakho and Ilori. Their interest in Alderweireld cooled, and for a moment, it seemed there was nobody left for the Belgian.

But finally, 4 to 5 days ago, Atletico Madrid’s interest became public. A first bid was rejected by Ajax, but after quick negotiations, a 7M Euros deal was agreed. It all happened very quickly, and last weekend, Alderweireld flew over to Spain to sign his new 4 year contract.

Alderweireld waited a long time to get his move, but he won’t regret it now. Atletico Madrid are without a doubt Spain’s third best club right now. They sold their star striker Falcao this summer, but they kept the rest of the team together, and brought in some smart replacements. Ambitions are high, expectations too.

Now the question is obvious: what are Toby Alderweireld’s personal expectations at Atletico? Will he be a starter?

It’s a tough question to answer. Every Atletico Madrid fan will tell you their CB partnership, Godín-Miranda, has been absolutely terrific ever since Diego Simeone took over in Madrid.

But what’s very interesting about Toby Alderweireld is that he’s also able to play as a RB. He’s even a starter for the Belgium national team at RB. And for that spot, he may well have a chance to gain some sufficient playing time.

For me, the ex-Ajax player will get enough game time in the Spanish capital city. If not at CB, it will be at RB. And over time, I even do think he’ll push into a starting spot at CB. He’s a fine defender, very technical, composed, and relatively strong. He’s got a lot of experience, and can only get better with time. He’s very motivated and won’t be afraid to fight for his spot.

To conclude, for both Alderweireld and Atletico Madrid, this is a very smart move. Alderweireld has got his top club, a very ambitious one, and Atletico have got themselves a polyvalent, good defender, on the cheap.

Ajax will be disappointed with the relatively low fee, but with one year left on the defender’s contract, could they really expect anything more?

The future will tell us, but this is a very smart move.

 

Written by Yannick Bloem

Follow Yannick on Twitter @ybthebest

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