That is the question. Or at least one of the questions that will be keeping Spurs fans awake at night, now that the transfer window is officially open and the fate of our best centre-half is hanging in the balance. And off the back of that frenetic 5-4 victory over Leicester City on the final day of the season, I would say that we are currently left with even more questions than answers right now. In what appeared to be an odd, yet nonetheless creative tribute to his old mate Ossie Ardiles (who was in attendance with the rest of the Tottenham royalty), Mauricio Pochettino decided to throw the defensive playbook out the window, which predictably led to us conceding four goals against a Leicester City team that were apparently already on the beach……or in Jamie Vardy’s case, in a beachside casino, racially abusing an Asian tourist. As you can imagine, conceding four goals is never a good look for any defender….especially one that is demanding a bumper new contract from a chairman who famously pinched a penny so hard that he gave himself copper poisoning! That probably never happened. Please don’t sue me.
Anyway, despite the sheer lunacy of this game and the heart palpitations that came with it, a number of players did manage to come out of it with a degree of credit. Danny Rose appears to be back to his old self as he made plenty of barnstorming runs down the left and Kyle Walker-Peters put in another man of the match performance, thus continuing to make Serge Aurier look like the poor man's…..well, Serge Aurier. Harry Kane seems to have re-discovered his shooting boots just in time to take corners for England at the World Cup and Erik Lamela delivered one of his most productive games in a Spurs shirt to date. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late to get him into the Argentina squad but it certainly bodes well for next season and acts as a timely reminder as to what he is capable of when he isn’t involved in one of his epic games of hide and seek with the medical staff. As always, a touch of light relief was provided by the ever entertaining double act of Moussa Sissoko and Victor Wanyama, whose uncanny impersonation of the Chuckle Brothers was both impressive and alarming in equal measures. But back to the important issue of contracts…..or lack thereof. Despite the fact that Toby Alderweireld’s future appears to lie elsewhere (barring some sort of last minute Ebenezer Scrooge-esque change of heart), we have seen an encouraging spate of contract renewals this week, which I am hoping is just the prelude to some much more exciting announcements in the very near future. We have already seen Davinson Sanchez and Cameron Carter-Vickers pen new deals, which probably doesn’t bode well from a Toby perspective, along with highly rated youngsters Kyle Walker-Peters and Harry Winks, who also committed their long-term futures to the club.
Annoyingly though, Toby Alderweireld isn’t the only Belgian that we will be losing sleep over this summer. There are also significant question marks over the futures of Mousa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen. Despite recently being described as a “genius” by Mauricio Pochettino, Dembele is turning 31 shortly and has struggled with his fitness over the last couple of years. Much as I love the guy, it is hard to admit that his best days may well be behind him and perhaps we owe him one last big payday in China. He should probably think twice before agreeing to a move though, as those Chinese will eat anything they can get their hands on…..especially a moose! Arguably more important than both of these guys however, is Jan Vertonghen. In my opinion, he was our player of the season and despite also being 31 and nearing the end of his contract, he is on a completely different trajectory to Dembele, as he continues to improve dramatically with age…..much like a fine French wine. Or Barbara Windsor. Worryingly, I don’t think that selling his two best mates will make him any more inclined to sign a new deal with us but let’s hope that after 6 years at the club, he has started to feel an element of Stockholm Syndrome towards his captors.
However, all of this will prove to be irrelevant if we cannot keep hold of Mauricio Pochettino. Despite the seemingly constant media witch hunt against him and his sudden “lack of trophies”, he has undoubtedly overseen the most successful period in our recent history and certainly during my lifetime. He has cemented our position as the top club in London for the first time since 1995 and in doing so, has finally ended Arsene Wenger’s 22 year reign of terror at The Emirates. And in light of his recent, rather abrupt end of season comments, it very much looks as if he is trying to leverage this success to force Daniel Levy’s hand in an attempt to take Spurs to the next level, which is something that we all want, right? Daniel Levy seems like the sort of guy who would respond well to an ultimatum. This can only go well for us. If by some minor miracle Poch manages to make it out of the boardroom in one piece, you would imagine that his plan would not only include further pay rises for most of his key players but also a more targeted and ambitious approach to the transfer market. In recent weeks, we have been linked with the likes of Christian Pulisic, Anthony Martial, Ryan Sessegnon and Matthijs De Ligt which, if true, would certainly represent a shift away from the bargain basement deals of the past and an increased focus on some of the most sought after young talent in the world. Indeed, a top quality wunderkind such as Matthijs De Ligt may well be the only way to appease the fans if we were to lose a player of Toby’s obvious quality. However, with Spurs being Spurs and Daniel Levy being the shrewd negotiator that he is, I am quietly confident that we will end up with Jonny Evans, Jay Rodriguez and Alfie Mawson by the time the transfer window slams shut, crushing our hopes and dreams in the process.
So there you have it. Clearly, Tottenham have a very important and potentially era-defining summer ahead of them. We run the risk of having to replace a number of first team regulars and we know from experience that this can prove rather difficult. If we do end up losing Toby Alderweireld as expected, I will be gutted to see him go, because he has been a truly class act for us and we will miss him immensely. More than anything, it will be nigh on impossible to replace his laser guided, 50 yard cross-field passes. You know the ones; the exquisite drilled passes that, by contrast, make Michael Dawson look like a drunk throwing rocks at a wheely bin. However, if we were ever in a position to lose a top quality player and still manage to progress as a club, it is now. We have the most talented and diverse playing squad that we have ever had, certainly in the Premier League era and Mauricio Pochettino has repeatedly shown us that he knows how to get the most out of each individual player, so long as they buy into his methods and his vision. But for once it is not the players we need to worry about. More than anything, we need to pray that Daniel Levy is the one who buys into Pochettino’s amended vision and gives him both the financial and professional backing that he deserves. Because as the old saying goes; In Poch we trust. And then, even if Toby does decide to break our hearts.........there could still be De Ligt at the end of the tunnel. COYS