Southampton should exercise Toby Alderweireld option early

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Southampton manager Ronald Koeman should look to sign Toby Alderweireld on a permanent deal as one of his first pieces of business in January.

The on-loan Belgian defender joined the Saints on deadline day this summer and has been an instant hit with the Southampton fans. The Atletico Madrid man has formed a formidable partnership with captain Jose Fonte at the heart of a Saints defence which had been almost watertight until recently.

Tie him down

Koeman is said to be in the market for a couple of players in January, but the one thing he should do first and foremost is to get Alderweireld signed up for the long term. The defender has taken to the Premier League with ease and his Champions League experience has made him one of the best defenders in the league.

Southampton currently have him on loan until the end of the season, but there is the option to buy him for just £6.3 million. That fee would represent a bargain considering Liverpool paid the Saints £20million for Dejan Lovren this summer, and Alderweireld looks twice the player which is why Koeman should exercise that option as soon as possible.

Oozing class

Alderweireld oozes quality in everything he does on the pitch, whether it be the defensive side of his game or with the ball at his feet. He was even pushed into a central midfield role when Morgan Schneiderlin and Jack Cork were injured in the last couple of matches, but it made no difference to his performance.

Even in midfield Alderweireld looked comfortably one of the Saints' best players. Whether the ball is in the air or at his feet, he always looks in control and that versatility to play at the back or in midfield is just as priceless a commodity.

Reaching the next level

If the Southampton board are serious about taking the club to the next level, whether that is the Europa League or the Champions League in the next few years, the purchase of Alderweireld is a key step in that direction.

The 6ft 1in star is a seasoned international defender and his experiences are exactly what the Saints need if they are to progress further. Although only a short time into his Southampton career, Alderweireld's talent is obvious and if he keeps up his recent form, he might just be one of the best pieces of business the club has ever done.

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