According to The Independent, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has promised out of favour defender Toby Alderweireld a blank slate for this season.
For many fans, it almost seemed guaranteed throughout the summer that the Belgian defender would be leaving north London, with Old Trafford being his likely destination. However, after that transfer, or any others, have not come to fruition yet, the Argentinian manager is willing to start afresh.
Fans of The Lilywhites will be over the moon with this news, but it means only one thing for the club- that the 29-year-old must return to the starting XI for good.
Alderweireld (valued at £36m on Transfermarkt.co.uk) started his first match for Tottenham in a very long time last week, as his side ran out winners against Fulham at Wembley. But if this blank slate between the manager and player is to be believed, he has to be starting every week, with tonight’s fixture against Man United included.
There has never been any doubting the quality of the former Atlético Madrid player; he is widely regarded as one of the best centre-backs on the planet. What curtailed his progress last year was an injury that took a large chunk out of his season, as well as his failed contract negotiations. Pochettino overlooked him, as it was clear that his head was not in the right place, not to mention the fact that he had more than able deputies in Jan Vertonghen and Dávinson Sánchez.
Now Pochettino has the chance to use Vertonghen, Alderweireld and Sánchez in unison, creating a formidable back three that was barely possible last year. This would probably be the best defence in the Premier League, with Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies on the flanks. Pochettino would have been dreaming of that combination when he signed Sánchez last year, but would have been disappointed that it didn’t work out, but now he has the chance.
Ultimately, Pochettino had an excuse to not pick Alderweireld last year, as the Belgian’s commitment came into question. But with just days remaining in the European transfer window, it looks as though the defender is staying in London. However, with this fresh start, the manager has absolutely no excuses any more, and simply must start one of his best players.