In what is supposed to a big blow for Tottenham Hotspur, defender Toby Alderweireld is not expected to travel to Juventus on Tuesday for the Champions League’ first leg of round of 16, according to various reports.
The Belgian international missed over three months with a hamstring injury before making his comeback in the 2-0 win over Newport County in the FA Cup last week. He played the 90 minutes and having attained full fitness, he was hoping to be in the line-up for the derby against Arsenal on Saturday.
However, Mauricio Pochettino kept him out from the match-day squad and has now decided to leave him in London, as the Argentine wants the defender to work on his fitness rather than travel to Italy for what is Tottenham’s biggest game of the season (The Telegraph).
Summer signing Davinson Sanchez has deputised alongside Jan Vertonghen in the absence of Alderweireld and is expected to feature in the last-16 first-leg tie at the Juventus Stadium.
Alderweireld is unlikely to be happy at being left out of the travelling squad for the Juventus game and it remains to be seen whether Pochettino’s decision impacts his contract talks, which have been continuing for more than a year. The Belgian’s current deal contains a one-year extension option, which the club could activate in the summer of 2019 and would see the player contracted until 2020.
But the present deal also has a £25million release clause that could be activated by any club in the summer of 2019, provided they complete the transfer at least 14 days before the closure of the window.
Pochettino has played hardball in the past with Danny Rose and Erik Lamela and has been insistent that players must prove their full fitness following long injury lay-offs before they are reintegrated into the squad on a usual basis.
Alderweireld is a hugely important player for Spurs and Pochettino knows the very fact. Is there something brewing behind the scenes or is our gaffer taking an extra caution with the player by not rushing him for the biggest game of the season? No idea about it.
But one thing that our club should immediately do is to sort out the central defender’s contract situation. What frightens me at times is Alderweireld has a release clause of only £25million! That sum of money is absolutely nothing for big clubs, who could all be circling for the Belgian in the summer if a contract extension is not agreed.