Manchester United have become the latest club interested in signing Tottenham Hotspur's Toby Alderweireld, reports the Manchester Evening News, as speculation continues about the defender's future.
Alderweireld's current contract with Spurs expires in 2019 and despite negotiations for a new one nothing has yet been signed. The deal does have a one-year extension, but that would also trigger a £25m release clause the club are understandably reluctant to activate for a centre-back rated among the best in the Premier League.
Alderweireld was left out of Tottenham's matchday squad for their 2-2 Champions League draw with Juventus, just as he was for the victory against Arsenal in their previous game - despite declaring himself fit following a hamstring injury after playing the full 90 minutes against Newport County in an FA Cup fourth round replay.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino says that he simply doesn't want to rush the 28-year-old back, but just as the Argentine has done in the recent past with Kyle Walker and Danny Rose, is he proving the North Londoners can cope without a key player?
When it became apparent Walker wanted to leave for Manchester City towards the end of last season, Pochettino increasingly played Kieran Trippier at right-back until the deal was eventually confirmed over the summer.
After that Rose gave an interview with the Sun in which the England international claimed he would be open to a move North amid speculation linking him with a switch to Old Trafford, and Ben Davies has since emerged as an important figure at left-back; admittedly partly due to injury.
This is basically Pochettino showing that no player is bigger than the team and if they think they are, the 45-year-old will bring someone else in and prove they are not.
This may not be the case with Alderweireld, but the success with which Davinson Sanchez has settled in since a summer switch from Ajax shows that Spurs could realistically be threatening the same thing with the Belgian.