It has become abundantly clear during this summer’s transfer window that Manchester United are chasing a new centre-back. José Mourinho has fooled no one with claims that he’s happy with his current options in the position, and a vast array of names have been linked.
While younger, more long-term prospects such as Sevilla's Clément Lenglet and Newcastle’s Jamaal Lascelles would be many United fans’ picks, one story that refuses to go away is the club’s pursuit of Tottenham Hotspur’s Toby Alderweireld.
It is believed that the 29-year-old Belgian defender has a £25million release clause in his contract with Spurs and, despite featuring sparingly for them last season, a vast array of suitors appear willing to cough up the cash to prize him away.
If United are to get their man they may have to move quickly, but do the stats back up the idea that this would be a bargain of a signing that is guaranteed to pay off?
|CLUB Tottenham Hotspur||AGE 29Y 3M|
|POS DEF||HEIGHT 6FT 1IN|
Avg Goal for
Avg Goals against
Mins per goal for
Mins per goal against
Shots for per game
Points per game
Alderweireld appeared in just 14 of Spurs’ 38 Premier League outings last season due to a combination of injuries and drops in the pecking order, and it’s notable how little impact he had when he was on the pitch.
Spurs’ average goals against per game remained pretty consistent with and without him, while one may reasonably expect that particular statistic to drop significantly when a higher quality of defender is inserted into a side.
More alarming is the fact that the side’s win ratio actually dropped from 63% without Alderweireld to 57% with him in the side, suggesting that he may have even have had a more negative than positive impact when selected.
While there can be no doubt that Alderweireld has been one of the Premier League’s better defenders since arriving on these shores in 2014, it’s telling that his absence was felt so little by Spurs last season.
At 29-years-old he’s edging towards the latter stages of his career and, while his powers may not be waning just yet, it’s unreasonable to think his very best days may already be behind him.
£25million is a lot of money, even in today’s market, and United should think carefully about their investment.
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