COMMENT By Richard Parks
The writing is now etched indelibly on the wall for Toby Alderweireld’s Tottenham career.
The composition of the Spurs matchday squad for Saturday night’s 3-1 Premier League defeat to Manchester City made it clear that there is no way back for the centre-back following his contract stalemate with the club.
Mauricio Pochettino’s previous logic when it came to not bringing Alderweireld into his matchday squads was because he was happy with the balance on his bench.
There was always the suspicion that Poch was telling porkies to hide the fallout of the contract row and that has now been substantiated.
With Danny Rose injured for the Wembley clash against Pep Guardiola’s side, that should have opened up a spot for another defender among the substitutes.
It didn’t, and even when Fernando Llorente suddenly had to withdraw from the squad for personal reasons after arriving at the stadium, 19-year-old striker Kazaiah Sterling suddenly found himself thrust on to the bench, just 24 hours after playing almost 90 minutes for the Under-23s at Chelsea.
Once again, Alderweireld – fit enough to play the full 90 minutes for Belgium during the recent international break – was nowhere to be seen.
Pochettino claims the 6ft 2in centre-back, brilliant since joining from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2015, will play again for Tottenham before the season comes to its conclusion, but there is seemingly little chance now of that.
If Davinson Sanchez or Jan Vertonghen were unavailable, it is likely Eric Dier would drop back to centre-back as cover. Even rookie Argentine Juan Foyth appears more likely to play than Alderweireld.
He is clearly not in Pochettino’s plans as a result of rejecting a contract offer from the club that did not meet his expectations.
Alderweireld’s time at Tottenham appears to be done.
In other Tottenham news, ‘I am so sorry’ – Pochettino offers heartfelt apology to senior Tottenham player after bust-up.