From: Atletico Madrid
Born in Belgium, Alderweireld first joined Ajax’s academy in 2004 before signing a professional contract with the Dutch giants in 2007. His time in Ajax’s junior ranks therefore meant he was also at the club for a period when now-Southampton boss Ronald Koeman was manager of the first team. Alderweireld, who can play at centre-back or right-back, went on to make more than 120 appearances for Ajax prior to sealing a move to Atletico Madrid last summer. The defender made just 12 appearances for Atletico, though, as they were crowned La Liga champions but he did start four of Belgium’s five games on the right of defence in their run to the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals.
“I am delighted that we have been able to bring Toby to the club,” said Koeman. “He is a strong defender, and is also very good at building up the play when we play out from the back. He played in the top league in Spain and against top teams in Europe, so he has a lot of confidence and experience, and he has a big future because he is still young.”
With Southampton in need of a replacement for Dejan Lovren, a less-risky season-long loan looks like a good piece of business. That Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United were also credited with an interest in Alderweireld in the past says everything about his potential and perceived suitability for the Premier League. Belgian imports to England’s top flight over recent years have seen many success stories and Alderweireld has all the attributes to follow suit. The 25-year-old can tackle and represents a goalscoring threat in the air and from long range while that ability to also play at full-back is another major asset.
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Alderweireld has played very little first-team football at club level over the past 12 months and so could be a bit rusty. The loan nature of Southampton’s signing means he is not such a gamble but he is still going in at the deep end of the Premier League having spent most of last season sitting on Atletico’s bench. Alderweireld’s passing is also not as good as the player he will be replacing, Lovren, at St Mary’s so there will be room for improvement.
This could go either way. If Alderweireld’s attitude is not right, he could find it difficult to adapt. However, if he plays with a point to prove to Atletico, it will mean Southampton have a little bit of a coup. Koeman’s past knowledge of Alderweireld may likely be the decisive factor in making this move a hit.
What is your verdict of the Toby Alderweireld signing?