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Reports: Manchester United target Premier League defender

The Manchester club have emerged as the sole contender for a rival centre-back.

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Rumors 14 Feb 2018, 22:05 IST
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Manchester United v Burnley - Premier League
Jose Mourinho is looking to strengthen United's defence

What's the rumour?

As per a report on Manchester Evening News, Manchester United have been alerted about the situation concerning Tottenham Hotspur centre-back Toby Alderweireld. The news surrounding Alderweireld with a potential move away from north London comes straight after he was left out of the Spurs squad to face Juventus in their Champions League tie yesterday evening.

Manager Mauricio Pochettino confirmed the reason for omitting the Belgian was to avoid the potential risks involved, as he's not fully fit at present having only returned to first-team action during their FA Cup victory over Newport County last Wednesday.

The 28-year-old has a £25m release clause in his current contract, which is set to expire during the summer of 2019 - but has a one-year extension option inserted.

In case you didn't know...

Despite recovering from his lengthy hamstring injury, Alderweireld was - somewhat unsurprisingly - left out of Tottenham's squad to travel to Turin.

Having joined Spurs back in 2015, the Belgian has been one of Pochettino's standout performers and continues to impress, establishing his reputation as one of the Premier League's best defenders while doing so.

The heart of the matter

His partnership alongside compatriot Jan Vertonghen and more recently, Davinson Sanchez, has been a solid one when they've played together in Spurs' backline.

Last season, the centre-back pairing of Alderweireld and Vertonghen proved pivotal in helping Tottenham to secure qualification for the forthcoming UEFA Champions League campaign.

Other than his defensive qualities, he also has the ability to build-up attacks with his excellent passing range. He has the added capability to link passes with forward players, providing long balls directly into the box. Prior to his most recent injury, he averaged a pass completion rate of 85% and an eyewatering nine completed long balls per game in England's top-flight.

Rumour probability/rating: 6/10

With disappointing displays of late within Manchester United's own backline, the transfer speculation surrounding their pursuit of another centre-back does not come as much of a surprise.

Chris Smalling has been one of their weak links and his shortcomings were once again exposed during their 1-0 defeat by Newcastle last weekend. The interesting thing here is Alderweireld's contract situation, as he's under-paid based on his ability and it appears as though he's no closer to agreeing new terms than he was a year ago.

Manchester United's financial power means they'd be able to appease the former Ajax defender with his wage demands met should he be interested, while you could also argue he'd have a higher chance of winning silverware in Manchester as opposed to currently with Tottenham - who continue to develop but are not yet on their level.

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Despite his injury issues of late, Alderweireld has been one of Spurs' best performers in recent seasons

Spurs have only come close to winning a major trophy on one occasion during his spell in north London, where they were Leicester City's closest rivals in the Premier League title race and managed to drop points against weaker sides when they needed them the most. That was two seasons ago - not much has changed, they've failed to mount a serious title challenge.

United on the other hand, have higher targets and expectations of their players. Alderweireld is a proven centre-back, one who has flourished at the highest level and has the leadership skills necessary to settle in quickly at Old Trafford.

Whether he'd be convinced that joining United from Tottenham is that much of a significant step-up, remains to be seen.

Video: Toby Alderweireld's skills durijng 2017

Author's take

Tottenham are set to move into their new stadium next season. It's important for the club's progression that they manage to retain their best players - signing Alderweireld to improved terms is a priority going forward.

Regardless of United's reported interest, they cannot afford to lose one of their assets if their goal is to compete for major silverware in the years to come.

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