Tottenham Hotspur are the frontrunners to sign Atletico Madrid defender Toby Alderweireld, according to the Times.

The 26-year-old joined Atletico Madrid from Ajax in 2013 and just after a season, he joined Southampton on a season-long loan in the summer of 2014. He started in 26 league games for the Saints during the 2014/15 season.

Alderweireld can play both as a central defender or a right-back. Chelsea are also in the race to sign the Belgium international as Jose Mourinho was willing to do a swap deal with Atletico, which would allow Filipe Luis to rejoin the Spanish capital club.

However, the Blues have now suffered a blow in landing the versatile player as the north London club have taken the lead in securing Alderweireld's signature. Tottenham are favourites to sign the Atletico defender.

He wants to cement his place in Belgium's squad for next year's European championship. The only way he can do so, is by featuring regularly in the upcoming season. Mauricio Pochettino has assured Alderweireld a regular playing time, if he rejects Chelsea and makes a switch to White Hart Lane.

The Premier League champions are interested in the player and the former Ajax man admitted that he is aware of Chelsea's interest.

Southampton have exercised the option to sign him on a permanent transfer of £5.7m ($9.1m). However, Atletico will reject the Saints' offer and pay them a compensation of £1.4m ($2.2m).

Alderweireld wants to continue in England and with Tottenham in pole position in signing him, his dream is set to become true.

"The only thing I can say is that I'm happy in England, but it isn't just up to me. I had a fantastic season at Southampton and after I have been on holiday I will talk with Atletico," Alderweireld explained.

"I don't have an answer now, but hopefully Atletico will tell me quickly what is happening. It would be good to come back to England."