Why Toby Alderweireld was Tottenham Hotspur's signing of the season

Toby Alderweireld celebrates after Dele Alli scored the first goal for Tottenham

The Belgian contributed hugely to Tottenham's superb defensive record this term.

Toby Alderweireld celebrates after Dele Alli scored the first goal for Tottenham

When it comes to looking back over a fine year for Tottenham Hotspur and deciding who was the club's signing of the season, there can be only one man.

Dele Alli does not technically enter the running as he was signed midway through last season before being loaned back to MK Dons, but even if he was included, this writer would argue that defensive linchpin Toby Alderweireld was even more important than the young breakthrough star.

Alderweireld moved to White Hart Lane from Atletico Madrid for £11.5 million last summer after spending the previous campaign on loan at Southampton, and he has been integral to all that was good about Spurs this term.

Toby Alderweireld celebrates scoring the second goal for Tottenham

No Premier League side was more watertight in defence than Mauricio Pochettino's this season, as the North Londoners conceded a joint-low of just 35 goals from their 38 fixtures.

  Outfielder BlockTotal ClearanceHead ClearanceDuel WonAerial WonInterceptionBall RecoveryGoalsMins Played
Toby Alderweireld 33 285 143 116 59 66 161 4 3,419
Jan Vertonghen 18 174 107 134 54 63 126 0 2,595
Danny Rose 11 79 54 160 23 39 146 1 2,132
Kevin Wimmer 9 49 30 17 9 20 43 0 812
Ben Davies 6 61 36 69 25 28 52 0 1,288
Kyle Walker 5 106 62 183 52 92 209 1 2,943
Kieran Trippier 2 12 7 36 11 11 29 1 458

At the heart of this was Alderweireld. The Belgian international brought a calming presence to the Spurs backline which has been missing in recent years - arguably since the last days of fitness of former captain Ledley King.

According to Opta stats, the 27-year-old made an important block on average nearly once per game, and was ranked third and fifth in the list of all Premier League defenders for clearances and headed clearances respectively.

Toby Alderweireld celebrates with team mates after scoring the second goal for Tottenham

He made more blocks and clearances than any other Spurs player and was generally the commanding presence that the club needed to strengthen their defence, allowing the side to build from the back.

His £11.5 valuation last summer, a fairly hefty price tag for a defender, is likely to have doubled 12 months on, and if he can reproduce the same kind of form next season, Tottenham have every chance of being up there with the best again next term.

Toby Alderweireld celebrates after scoring the second goal for Tottenham

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch