Toby Alderweireld Left in London Due to Injury Rather Than Contract Wrangle, Insists Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino insists Toby Alderweireld's omission from the Tottenham squad to face Juventus on Tuesday (February 13) is to prevent putting his "career at risk" rather than due to a contract wrangle.

The Belgian center-back returned to action in the 2-0 win over Newport County in the FA Cup fourth round replay last week after three months out with a hamstring injury.

But Alderweireld was left out of the squad for the North London derby on Saturday, with summer signing Davinson Sanchez starting instead, and has remained in the capital while Spurs travel to Turin for the first leg of the Champions League last-16.

"He is 28 and it was a massive injury that we needed to care and be cautious [about], because we cannot put at risk his career," Pochettino said, as quoted by The Times. "He needs to work hard. I think to play these type of tough games you need to be 200 percent.

"Of course we are sorry for him for missing games like Arsenal or the Champions League [because] we work a lot to try to play this type of game. I can understand. And we are frustrated too because when you cannot play it is difficult to accept.

"We need to apply our common sense and be careful in the way we are going to use him in the first few weeks after he is fit for training. But to compete is different. We were lucky to have the replay against Newport for him to start to feel the competition. He will be part of the team next Sunday against Rochdale [in the FA Cup], and we are going to assess him day by day."

Mauricio Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino at Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy, February 12. Pochettino says Toby Alderweireld was left in London to protect him. Michael Regan/Getty

Alderweireld has declared himself fit to play which has caused much speculation over whether it is the 28-year-old's future that is behind his omission.

He is yet to agree a new contract with Tottenham with his current deal containing a one-year extension option. That would be activated in the summer of 2019 and see him remain at Spurs until 2020.

However, according to The Telegraph, his contract also contains a £25 million release clause that can be activated in the summer of 2019. This will likely force Spurs into selling the defender at the end of this season if a new deal is not agreed.

Chelsea and Manchester City are both believed to be monitoring the situation with Alderweireld, while Real Madrid are also said to be interested in him. A departure is possible considering Pochettino's ruthlessness with players in the past.

Danny Rose, the England left-back, has made just five appearances in the Premier League this season after an interview with The Sun in August in which he suggested he may seek a move for higher wages and silverware. Ben Davies has been Pochettino's preferred choice ever since.

Tottenham, meanwhile, face Massimiliano Allegri's Juventus in the first leg on Tuesday before the Italian side travel to Wembley Stadium on March 7.