Toby Alderweireld was a name linked to Manchester United for more than one transfer window.
This summer, he had a £25 million release clause in his Tottenham contract and the Express reported United retained an interest. Back in 2018 the price tag was more than double that.
But the Belgian has now – finally – signed a new deal with Spurs, which the Daily Mail claim is worth £150,000 per week.
United didn’t take the chance to sign the Belgian and now the existing central defensive options must prove that decision right.
Why didn’t United sign Alderweireld?
The links made sense; United have needed central defensive improvements since David Moyes’ first day on the job and an experienced Premier League performer was available for an affordable price.
It’s fair to say that if current Spurs boss Jose Mourinho was still in charge at Old Trafford, he’d have been pushing hard to sign Alderweireld for £25 million.
The Portuguese doesn’t care much for the long-term development of his clubs and players; he wants immediate success and it would have been a no-brainer for him, just as it’s been to oversee the extension of his Spurs deal.
But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has introduced a focus for younger talent who can perform at a high level for the club for years to come.
Alderweireld has been in decline over recent seasons and could well have become the latest high-earning, big-name signing brought in to make an instant impact who fails to deliver at Old Trafford.
Bailly and Tuanzebe must step up
Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof are now United’s first-choice pairing, both current internationals with years left in the tank so it’s easy to make the case for them above Alderweireld.
But United need a strong bank of central defenders and Alderweireld may well have been able to offer a boost to their ranks.
Solskjaer has shown faith in Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe and now they must repay him by stepping up to the point where they can be trusted in the very biggest games.
If they fail to, or at least one of them has departed, on loan or permanently by the end of next season, it may be tempting to look to north London at a man who has just committed his future until 2023 and wonder if he could have brought the desired improvement to Old Trafford.
The real judgement will be in two years time. Will Bailly or Tuanzebe still be important players at United, will Alderweireld still be going strong?
It is up to United’s back-up stars to show the faith placed in them was the right call, both short and long-term.
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