Three reasons why Alderweireld was right to pick Tottenham over Saints
David Marsh examines Toby Alderweireld's decision to join Tottenham Hotspur ahead of Southampton
Linking up with international team mates
White Hart Lane is now home to a small Belgian contingent with the addition of one more to their ranks after Toby Alderweireld signed on the dotted line. Midfielders Mousa Dembele and Nacer Chadli are regular first-team starters for Mauricio Pochettino’s side and centre-half Jan Vertonghen has been a Spurs player since 2012. Alderweireld may have seen a move to Spurs as a great chance to cement his place in the Belgian starting XI by forming a centre-half partnership with Vertonghen in the Premier League. Alderweireld is used to playing alongside Vertonghen at international level, having started four of Belgium’s five World Cup matches last summer at right back. However with Kyle Walker already established at Spurs and new signing Keiren Trippier making the move from Burnley, it would appear that they have enough depth at right-back and Alderweireld has been bought by Pochettino to be deployed as a centre-half. Spurs conceded 53 goals in the Premier League campaign last season – too many for a club with top-four ambitions. A new signing at centre-half to freshen things up was essential, and Alderweireld apparently viewed Pochettino’s re-building job at White Hart Lane as something he wants to be a part of.
Saints stars exodus
With Southampton having one of the finest academies in the Premier League, it is no surprise that their home grown stars have attracted the attention of the Premier League’s wealthiest clubs. An exodus in the last few years has seen the likes of Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers all move on to pastures new, leaving Saints’s fans pondering the future success of their club. The last few days has seen another first-team regular head for the exit door. Nathaniel Clyne was officially unveiled as a Liverpool player on 1 July. As exciting and refreshing to the Premier League as Southampton are, it seems that they have trouble holding onto their best talents, as bigger clubs continue to pick them off each summer with lucrative offers that Southampton cannot compete with financially. As much as Alderweireld must have enjoyed his loan spell at Southampton, he must have been put off by their failure to hold onto their prized assets and didn’t want to risk making his move at St Mary’s a permanent one. A switch to north London sees Alderweireld joining a club challenging for top four each year and improving season-by-season. With Spurs also receiving permission to go ahead with stadium re-development, this is another contributing factor that may have swung in Spurs’ favour in securing 26-year-old Alderweireld’s signature.
More chance competing in Europe
With the experience of playing and competing in European football, albeit mostly Thursday nights in the Europa league, Spurs do have the edge on Saints in what they can offer Alderweireld outside Premier League football. Even though Southampton will too be entertaining European visitors on Thursday nights at St Mary’s this year, no one can deny that Tottenham are far more equipped to compete in the competition than Saints are. This will be Southampton’s first crack at European football since 2003, when they were eliminated by Romanian outfit Steaua Bucharest in the first round of the Uefa Cup. With their lack of experience and relatively small squad, Southampton fans will surely be wary of what playing on Thursday nights has done to their Premier League rivals in recent years. Newcastle United had a close shave during the 2012-13 season – they finished just five points clear of the relegation zone at 16th after a fifth-place finish the season before. A remarkable fall from grace. Many fans believed that their Thursday night European football commitments were to blame for this decline in league form that saw them almost relegated to the Championship. Ronald Koeman will be eager for his Saints’ side to not replicate that dip in form that Newcastle suffered, but with a small squad like he has, the task of maintaining their excellent Premier League form will be a difficult one. Alderweireld may have seen Spurs’s superior squad size and experience in European football as a factor when he made the big decision on his future.