After an uninspiring performance against England on Friday night, The Netherlands stunned Portugal as they beat the 2016 Euros winners 3-0. Memphis Depay, Ryan Babel, and Virgin van Dijk found the net but it was another player who caught the eye, and won man-of-the-match as a result of his superb performance: Matthijs de Ligt.
✖️ De Ligt: 2 assists
✖️ Van de Beek: 1 assist
✖️ Kluivert: 1 debut
Fantastic game! pic.twitter.com/RaQJhTztfl
— AFC Ajax (English) (@AFCAjax_EN) March 26, 2018
Anyone that watched the game last night will tell you that de Ligt kept Cristiano Ronaldo in his back pocket, as well as claiming assists for two of the goals. Firstly, de Ligt delivered a delightful cross into Babel, for the striker to head it into the net and second, he headed a ball from the back-post into the path of Van Dijk.
Matthijs de Ligt is just 18 years old and has been playing regular football for Dutch giants Ajax. His mature performance was one you would expect of a player with years of experience and for that reason, de Ligt not only shows potential but shows he can hold his nerve on the international stage.
It becomes more and more apparent that fractions between Toby Alderweireld and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club continue to grow, and there is still no sign of a new contract for the revered defender, despite his time coming to an end in the summer of 2019. Rumours that the club will sell this summer to avoid losing Toby on a free transfer have now become widespread.
Whether you believe the club are making a mistake by refusing Alderweireld his £150,000 a week wage demand or not, the club must be prepared with replacements should he depart at the end of this Premier League season.
— Alderweireld Toby (@AlderweireldTob) March 25, 2018
The Ajax CB would fight right in
Like de Ligt, the Belgian partnership of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen were both products of the Ajax academy. Not only that, but Spurs broke their transfer record fee last summer on the transfer of 21-year-old centreback Davinson Sanchez from the same club. Sanchez has proven to be a formidable partner for Vertonghen whilst Alderweireld has been injured. If Spurs were to pounce on de Light, their Ajax connections could forge a partnership that were as solid’s as that of the Dutch duo, which has come to embody the Spurs defence in recent years.
Mauricio Pochettino has worked wonders with Spurs since his arrival and a central component of that successful formula has been down to his investment of time and energy into younger players. De Ligt might come with a hefty transfer cost, but under Pochettino’s leadership, he could flourish into a fantastic young player. Additionally, he is not going to disrupt the tightly organised Spurs pay structure in the dressing room. West Bromwich Albion’s Jonny Evans is reportedly a Spurs target as a replacement option for Alderweireld; why pay £3m for a turning 30 defender whose season’s captaincy has been filled with too much disappointment and not enough passion, when one can invest in a young and hungry CB who could be moulded into a champion?
Belgium are yet to play in the international break; they play Saudi Arabia tonight. The first team has not been announced, and Spurs fans are intrigued to see if Toby Alderweireld will be fit enough to make the starting XI. Mauricio Pochettino and the recruitment staff at Spurs might find it worth their while if they at least added de Ligt to the list of potential replacements should Alderweireld leave North London this summer. Even if not, he seems like the sort of target that fits nicely into the Mauricio Pochettino philosophy.