Toby Alderweireld should be allowed to leave Tottenham Hotspur if the club do not offer him a new deal to justify his profile as one of the best defenders in the Premier League, according to the player's agent. The Belgium international is locked in talks over a new deal, but Spurs' rigid wage structure could yet see him leave north London.
Chairman Daniel Levy has placed a strict £100,000-a-week cap on the club's biggest earners, with Harry Kane and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris the only players to approach that pay packet. Alderweireld is currently on £50,000-a-week but as he approaches the mid-way point of his five-year deal he wants to be properly compensated. The Evening Standard understand a £25m release clause in his current deal becomes active in the summer of 2019.
Since arriving at Tottenham on a permanent deal from Atletico Madrid – following a one-year loan spell at Southampton - the 28-year-old has been pivotal to the club challenging for the Premier League title and qualifying for the Champions League in his two full seasons at the club. In addition, since he arrived no team in the English top flight have conceded fewer goals.
As a result, Alderweireld wants to be rewarded appropriately and his representative has stated that should his new deal not included a hefty pay rise – a demand which comes on the day workers at fast-food chain McDonald's stage a walk-out over a pay dispute – that he should be allowed to leave Tottenham.
"When you look at Toby's statistics, they are impressive. Either he deserves an appropriate contract, or else he should be given a transfer," Stijn Francis said, according to The Independent. "Seven or eight big European clubs are interested in signing him. There are not many central defenders around who can play like he can. But these clubs will have to negotiate with Tottenham's chairman, Daniel Levy."
Speaking in July, Alderweireld revealed no progress had been made in discussions over fresh terms. The negotiations come amid reports senior Tottenham players are unhappy with the club's archaic stance over wages, following Danny Rose's public criticism of the policy. Mauricio Pochettino's side risk losing more of their best players – Kyle Walker moved to Manchester City in the summer on improved terms – if they do not address their strategy.
Former Tottenham forward Garth Crooks believes that should talks over a new deal not reach a satisfactory conclusion then Alderweireld will leave the club; with Barcelona a possible destination for him and manager Pochettino.
"I have been fascinated by the performances of Toby Alderweireld," Crooks wrote in his column for BBC Sport. "He has performed brilliantly all season but remains slightly anonymous among the stars at White Hart Lane. Yet I sense if Alderweireld were to leave Tottenham then he would, in my opinion, be the most difficult player to replace.
"I say this because it was in my FA Cup interview for Football Focus, before the semi-final with Chelsea, that I raised with the Belgium defender the issue about his contract. To my amazement he had not signed it at the time and, with Barcelona always on the look-out for top-class defenders, suddenly visions of him defecting to the Spanish giants became plausible."