We continue our our imaginary transfer shortlist with yet another Belgian, this time it's Ajax defender Toby Alderweireld.
Rumors have been flying about the future of William Gallas with Tottenham Hotspur. He's been linked with a move to Queens Park Rangers, possibly to replace the MLS bound Ryan Nelsen. The problem is, if Gallas goes that leaves Tottenham with only 3 fit central defenders until Younes Kaboul returns from injury. So, we should probably look into buying another one.
Name: Tobias "Toby" Albertine Maurits Alderweireld
Primary position: Central Defender
Can also play: Right back
Like his former teammate and fellow Belgian Jan Vertonghen, Alderweireld is a versatile defender capable of playing both in the center of defense and on the flanks.
As we've learned in years past three or four fit central defenders is just not enough. To compete on multiple fronts a team needs five competent central defenders. As of right now Tottenham have five on the books, four are fit, one is William Gallas. So assuming the Tottenham defense is set with a young-ish core of Vertonghen, Steven Caulker, and Younes Kaboul (the oldest at 27) and with the veteran leadership of Michael Dawson (29). The fifth spot is basically up for grabs.
Enter Toby Alderweireld. The problem here is that Toby is 23 and plays for a team that is perennially in the Champions League. He's good, but I doubt he would displace Dawson in our rotation and he's certainly not better than Kaboul. Toby is basically a right-footed Jan Vertonghen, minus the amazing hair. Physically, Toby is a little smaller, but in terms of their passing abilities and comfort on the ball they're essentially the same.
Toby partnered with Jan Vertonghen during some very successful years at Ajax and remains the rock in the center of their defense following Vertonghen's move to Tottenham in the summer. Toby would certainly be comfortable playing in the English game and certainly has the talent to succeed right away. Toby is also gives a decent goal return for a central defender, having scored 10 goals in the last three seasons.
Toby is under contract until June 2014 and has been linked with moves to several different Premier League clubs. The two main contenders, at least in the eyes of the English media, are Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
Likely price: £8 million
Probability that valuation is wrong: 50/50. I have no idea how much Toby would cost. The media say anywhere between £7 million and £9 million and FM says £12.5 million.
Team's willingness to sell: Very very low. Ajax already have to deal with the loss of Vertonghen and losing Toby wouldn't be good. Also, Ajax are three points from the top of the Eredivisie. They may want to hold on to the defender until this summer.
Fit at Tottenham Hotspur: That depends on what you want from your 4th/5th defender. Do you want an old experienced player or a young guy with a lot of potential or an established guy that you know without a doubt could play in a pinch. He's not going to get the minutes here that he'd get at Arsenal, but he's a good player and, apparently, you can never have enough of those.
Possibility he ends up at Spurs: Low. Arsenal are in desperate need of defensive help and Tottenham, even if Gallas departs are not in that dire of a position at the back.
Grade if this transfer goes through at likely price: B-. I suppose this really depends on the price, but £8 million is a lot of money for a 4th/5th defender.