Tottenham supporters are somewhat looking forward to the start of the new 2018/19 Premier League season, which for their team gets underway in the North East on Sunday.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men deserve great credit for sealing a third successive top four finish in the English top-flight last time round, thus further underlining their status as one of the best teams in the country. Yet the North Londoners finished a hefty 23 points adrift of champions Manchester City to suggest that much work was needed over the summer to turn Spurs into genuine title contenders.
But the transfer deadline passed on Thursday with no new signings at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, yet they did keep hold of defender Toby Alderweireld, despite the centre back having been repeatedly linked with a move to Manchester United.
And while keeping hold of the £36 million-rated ace (as per Transfermarkt) is sure to delight several Tottenham fans, it really wouldn’t have been the end of the world for Pochettino’s side were he to have left.
Ultimately, there is no doubting that the 29-year-old has been one of the best defenders in the Premier League since his move to Spurs back in 2015, with the Belgium international even impressing in his first season in England at Southampton the campaign before.
And in helping Pochettino’s side to the best defensive record of any top-flight team in the 2015/16 season, and indeed the campaign after, it’s clear that Alderweireld has had a big influence on the defensive unit in the last few years.
Yet that influence certainly wasn’t as big last time round given the outstanding start to life Davinson Sanchez made in English football, what with the 21-year-old only making the move to Spurs last summer after a spell at Dutch giants Ajax.
Alderweireld sustained a hamstring problem in their Champions League group stage clash back in November to thus leave him out for a spell on the sidelines, a spell that didn’t come to an end until the middle of April when he started their 1-1 draw with Brighton.
And that spell was elongated as a result of the excellent efforts of Sanchez in the heart of Pochettino’s backline, as the Colombia international seamlessly adapted to the rigours of the Premier League to strike up a formidable partnership alongside the experienced Jan Vertonghen – Sanchez earned many rave reviews over the course of the campaign.
Yes, the 21-year-old finished the season with fewer tackles per game than Alderweireld (1.2 to the Belgian’s 1.4), but Sanchez certainly underlined his capabilities by making more clearances and winning more aerial duels per game than the 29-year-old, at the same time finishing the season with a higher pass success rate than the ex-Southampton defender.
Thus, it’s pretty clear that the Colombian ace, who enjoyed a fine World Cup with his country in their run to the last 16, did an outstanding job replacing Alderweireld in that Spurs backline to suggest that he could do so again this term, and perhaps for many years to come.
So while there is likely to be delight among Tottenham fans that Alderweireld has remained at the club, the efforts of Sanchez means that it wouldn’t have been the end of the world for the North Londoners if they had lost the Belgian star this summer.
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