Tottenham Hotspur defender Toby Alderweireld delivered a timely reminder to Jose Mourinho in midweek as he excelled for Belgium in their 3-1 win over Gareth Bale and Joe Rodon’s Wales.
The 31-year-old centre-back has fallen out of favour at Spurs in recent weeks, featuring in just one of their last four matches in all competitions – that being the north London derby defeat.
Since Christmas, Alderweireld has been snubbed from the starting XI a total of ten times, with Davinson Sanchez and Eric Dier often preferred despite calls for them to be sold by ex-Spurs midfielder Jamie O’Hara.
It’s even more surprising as the long-serving powerhouse was one of the first players to sign a fresh contract extension under Mourinho.
He was absent for the trip to Villa due to a reported illness but, just days later, he has started and starred in the Red Devils’ opening World Cup qualifier.
Alderweireld was arguably their most influential player on the night, managing a whopping 154 touches of the ball – nearly double what Man City superstar Kevin De Bruyne managed (88) throughout the same time frame.
This suggests that Roberto Martinez was confident enough to deploy a gameplan through the veteran Spurs defender. This was accompanied by a squad-high 137 passes, completed at an accuracy rate of 93%, as per SofaScore.
Belgian radio station RTBF had Alderweireld rated amongst their best defenders and claimed: “Several long balls as usual. Rarely caught failing, except in the 56th [when Dan James fired off a shot at goal].”
Against a tricky-looking front three of James, Bale and Harry Wilson, the £13.5m-rated star was rock-solid, also providing one clearance and winning 50% of his aerial duels.
By comparison, his current Spurs rival Rodon managed only 50 touches and 36 passes all game, as per SofaScore.
In the Premier League for Spurs, Alderweireld only averages 65.9 touches and 44.8 accurate passes, so that certainly suggests he was playing out of his skin for his country this week.
Spurs’ defensive issues over the course of the season have been well-documented – as mentioned above, both Dier and Sanchez have been particularly error-prone.
The forgotten Spurs colossus has certainly thrown his name back into the hat with such a commanding and impressive display on international duty this week.
AND in other news, Bye-bye Lamela: Spurs eye “creative” £35m-rated beast…