The centre of Spurs’ defence is fractured. The club conceded more goals than any other top-10 side in the Premier League last term and Mauricio Pochettino struggled to rely on a settled partnership during the campaign.
Vlad Chiriches and Younes Kaboul, who started the season as captain, were non-entities by the end of the term, while Eric Dier, Federico Fazio and Jan Vertonghen were a regular rotation.
All three seesawed between confident performances and blunder-filled embarrassments, probably as a result of the constant changing of partners that they were playing with.
It’s unsurprising that Pochettino is seeking to secure the heart of his defence during this transfer window. Chiriches and Kaboul are widely expected to leave, while 22-year-old Austrian Kevin Wimmer has been signed already.
However, another recruit, able to play a dominant part in restoring tranquillity to the 13/2 top-four challengers’ backline, is still sought.
Reports suggest that Toby Alderweireld, the Atletico Madrid defender that spent last season on loan at Southampton, is the prime target.
Nabbing him, which Daniel Levy hopes to do for £10m, would be a coup. Not least because Southampton, who had one of the division’s best defensive units with the Belgian, are keen on a deal, but also because his arrival may spark a rebirth in Vertonghen.
The pair spent three seasons together as Ajax first-teamers between 2009 and 2012, when Vertonghen left for White Hart Lane.
As a defensive partnership, they excelled. The owned the best defence during the 2009/10 campaign, when they shipped just four goals at home. The following year a Vertonghen-Alderweireld axis propelled de Godenzonen to the best defensive record again.
Although they slipped to second in their final season together, they were still part of a unit that kept 12 clean sheets and conceded just 36 goals.
Vertonghen’s best season at Spurs was arguably his first, when he had the comfort of a regular partnership with Michael Dawson to depend on, with William Gallas filling in on occasion.
Reuniting him with Alderweireld, already initiated in the hustle and bustle of the Premier League, could end the constant rotation in defensive partnerships and help return him to his best form.
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