Arguably the signing of the season, Toby Alderweireld has been absolutely sensational at the back for Spurs this season. The Belgian centre-back has hardly put a foot wrong all season. In fact, his only mistake at the club probably came in August when he conceded a rash penalty against Stoke which was only his second game for his new side.
The best thing he has done to the team since his arrival is the fact that he has managed to bring out the best out of the players around him, notably Jan Vertonghen (currently out with injury). The 27-year-old has proved to be a calming influence in the defence and has formed a great understanding with Vertonghen which has been on display for most of the season.
They have experience playing together with the Belgian national team as well as previously at Ajax.
Chemistry with Vertonghen
Vertonghen has always been a quality defender, but one who hasn’t always been supported very well at the back. The presence of Alderweireld has quite clearly taken pressure off the defender and he has looked solid and effective at the back all season. The two Belgians have complementary styles which benefits the defence.
Evidently, Vertonghen who is a left footer, likes to come out of the box and play on the front foot. This has often made him come under scrutiny in the past because it has left the defence vulnerable. But the fact that he now has Alderweireld alongside him, who is right footed and takes care of everything behind him which results in defensive mistakes of the past few seasons not repeating.
“It is nice to play with him, we know each other well and I think you can see that on the field,” Alderweireld said back in October. Vertonghen should return from injury soon and in the meantime, the former Atletico Madrid player seems to be doing equally well with Kevin Wimmer.
Best since King?
Many Spurs fans are calling Toby Alderweireld the best at the back since Ledley King. While such reactions can be knee-jerk, these calls may be right. What’s even better in case of the Belgian is that while King was absolutely lethal on his day, Alderweireld has proved to be more consistent than King so far this season.
He has always been an intelligent player, which has been a strength since his early days at Ajax. The intelligence in his play is visible and the fact that he is assured of his abilities shows in his calming demeanour at the back.
Not to mention, he offers a genuine threat in attack with his long balls and is a goal threat from corners and set pieces. He is a complete defender - dominant in the air, solid in the box and with enough pace to help out in the transitions from defence to attack himself.
Leadership is also an important facet of the game. Leagues are won and lost because of this quality. One of the reasons why Liverpool couldn’t cross the line in 2013/14 was because of the lack of leaders on the pitch, some say.
In this scenario, Pochettino has managed to create a team with leaders and character, and Alderweireld has checked the box in this department as well. The Belgian offers that at the back and ensures the defence is organised with the team being constantly on alert.
He has been an absolutely fantastic addition to the Spurs squad and has been worth every penny of the reported £11.5m the side paid Atletico Madrid for his services. He can be considered a bargain considering the money that is thrown around in the market these days.
Alderweireld could be part of a very successful Tottenham season, irrespective of whether the second placed side can win the title; and his contribution to the success of this season has been immense.
Written by Aakriti Mehrotra
Follow Aakriti on Twitter @Aakriti1
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