Mauricio Pochettino has stated that there is a “new chapter” between him and Toby Alderweireld at Tottenham Hotspur.
The defender hardly featured for Spurs last season after suffering a hamstring injury in the Champions League victory against Real Madrid in November which kept him sidelined until February, with Pochettino preferring to go with a central defensive duo of Jan Vertonghen and Davinson Sanchez.
Alderweireld’s contract situation has been well documented, his deal is set to expire next summer but has a clause that enables the club to extend it by 12 months. However, the same clause also allows Alderweireld to leave next summer for £25.4 million before the final 14 days of the transfer window.
The player was heavily linked with a move away from the club during the summer transfer window, with Manchester United said to be leading the chase, along with interest from the likes of PSG and Bayern Munich but a move has not materialised.
“I don’t want to explain nothing about individual players,” Pochettino told The Independent when asked about his relationship with Alderweireld: “I explained all that I needed to explain during the pre-season. Now, on the pitch, we need to be professional. Wait for my decision, and if my decision is for them to play, sure they may not be happy if they don’t play. Sure it can be difficult to be happy because the players want to play.”
When asked further if all players have a clean slate to work off this season, he added: “Of course. First of all I tell them. And then I tell you. For me, all the players that are here start from zero.
“It is so important to give opportunities, not because of last season or two season ago. For me it is a new chapter. When I signed the new contract here, for me, it is like I’ve arrived from the first day. No prejudging. You start from zero. You can deserve to play under our judgement. It is not to see what happened in the past.”
Spurs fans were full of excitement when Alderweireld returned to the starting line-up for last weekend’s 3-1 victory against Fulham, with the Spurs boss insisting he will always pick the most suitable team to pick up the victory: “Sometimes my decisions are difficult for the people to understand. It’s not easy, but I considered the starting XI against Fulham was the best starting XI to win the game.
“Like I am going to consider for the next game the best starting XI and maybe make a few changes too. This season is a challenge. It is a completely different challenge for us because it is only three weeks since the players who arrived from the World Cup have been training.
“You need six, seven weeks to start to compete in a normal season and that is why sometimes you need to be careful how you react after the effort from 90 minutes. Of course you are going to do some changes, some names, sometimes I keep the same formation or change our formation. We have a few days to take the best decision for the team.”
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