Toby Alderweireld has become one of the Premier League's finest

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Tottenham Hotspur in recent years, have rarely been associated with having one of the best defences in the Premier League. Often they have been criticised for their lack of defensive nous and inability to avoid conceding sloppy goals.

However, this season that negative picture has altered drastically and now the club stand proudly with a defence that any of Europe's elite would be proud of. So far in 2015/16, they have let in only 16 goals, the best figure in the Premier League and have established themselves as a solid unit at the back.

The question is, how has this growth in defensive capability occurred? In part, it is down to the resolute tactics and management style of Mauricio Pochettino, but it is perhaps more a result of the arrival of Belgian centre-back Toby Alderweireld.


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One of the bargains of the summer

The former Southampton loanee was brought in during the summer for an undisclosed fee after it became apparent that he was unwanted at Spanish giants Atletico Madrid.

After impressing during his loan stint at St Mary's last season, the Belgian decided to make a return to Premier League action and has now gone on to cement himself as one of the finest defenders in England.

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The most impressive aspect about Alderweireld is his versatility as a player. He is more than capable of effectively marshalling and nullifying opposition attackers with brutal efficiency, but is then able to become an elegant playmaker with the ball at his feet.

His composure on the ball may not be as eye-catching as someone like John Stones, but he is still able to conduct proceedings from the back with his intelligent positioning and excellent first touch.

Passing one of his strongest assets

As well as his defensive strengths, Alderweireld - unlike very few centre-backs in the Premier League - possesses some offensive weapons which he regularly utilises to Tottenham's advantage.

Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United - Premier League

One of these is his range of passing, centre-backs are not usually expected to be able to play pinpoint long balls to their attackers; it is not a required skill-set for the average defender, but the Belgian can do it expertly.

His two assists this season, both for Dele Alli, have been passes that any of the world's finest playmakers would have been happy to call their own pieces of magic. It is a unique skill which very few defenders possess and it has helped add an extra dimension and variable to Spurs' attack.

An all-round threat

From set-pieces, he can also be a threat, registering two goals so far this season and his tenacious attitude from these situations typifies the new found desire at White Hart Lane this season.

Both Alderweireld and his defensive partner Jan Vertonghen have played every minute of the 20 Premier League games so far this season. It seems no coincidence that Spurs' upturn in fortunes has coincided with this fact, with Alderweireld's presence improving the form of his international colleague.

For a team to progress in football these days they simply must have a solid defence and for the first time possibly in the Premier League era, Spurs have just that.

Spurs can learn a lot from Alderweireld's previous club Atletico and how Diego Simeone challenged the elite with a team built around a disciplined and a talented back-line - eventually breaking the dominant domestic duopoly of Real Madrid and Barcelona.

It is possibly too early to say that Spurs' new signing is set to usher in a new era of success for them, but at this current moment in time, the signs all look rather positive for one of the league's serial underachievers.

Do you think Alderweireld can help Spurs achieve success? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!

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Tottenham Hotspur
Premier League
Mauricio Pochettino
Gareth Bale

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