Mauricio Pochettino has cast further doubt on
Toby Alderweireld’s Tottenham situation by
insisting the Belgian will not play in their
Champions Leaguelast 16 tie with Juventus next
Alderweireld returned from a three-month lay-off
with a hamstring injury at the start of the month
but Pochettino has only started the centre half in
Spurs’ FA Cup ties with Newport County and
Manchester United are interested in Alderweireld as
he continues to stall over a new Tottenham
contract and Spurs could sell him this summer
rather than risk losing him for the A?25million
release clause his deal triggers in summer 2019.
United are prepared to bid for Alderweireld this
summer but Pochettino was forced to defend
Tottenham’s cautious approach with the 28-year-
old centre half on the eve of their fifth round
replay against Rochdale.
“He is still recovering, he is not participating with
the group,” Pochettino said on Tuesday. “The
answer is clear,” he added when asked about the
prospect of Alderweireld facing Juve in the second
“Sometimes people create an expectation,a�?
Pochettino explained. “And then we are the bad
guys, when we say, a�?No, no, no, you cannot
playa�� or we start to build your fitness step-by-
step. It’s our responsibility.
“But it’s impossible to explain everything. It’s just
to be careful about the player because we want
Toby 100 per cent, ready to play. We don’t take
our decisions based on public opinion. We are
professional and when we take a decision, it’s
because we have assessed and analysed, we have
thought 100 times to try to take the best decision
for the team and for the player.”
Pochettino’s handling of Alderweireld is similar to
how he dealt with Kyle Walker and Danny Rose’s
fitness issues. Walker left Tottenham in a A?54m
deal in the summer before Rose publicly questioned
the club’s ambition and flirted with United in an
interview with The Sun newspaper.
Rose was ‘very disappointed’ to be omitted from
the squad to face Arsenal in November and
Pochettino harboured doubts about Walker’s
durability during his final season before he joined
The M.E.N. revealed United’s interest in
Alderweireld earlier this month.