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Transfer Rater: Gotze to Tottenham

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Transfer Rater: Jack Grealish to Tottenham

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Tottenham Hotspur handling Toby Alderweireld well - Belgium's Martinez

ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop breaks down the latest transfer rumours surrounding the likes of Paul Pogba, Willian, Dele Alli and more in Transfer Rater.
Alejandro Moreno discusses Toby Alderweireld's growth at Tottenham and where he fits among the top centre-backs in world football.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has backed Tottenham's handling of fit-again Toby Alderweireld but said the defender had wanted to play against Juventus last week.

Alderweireld continued his comeback from a long-term hamstring injury when he played 90 minutes against Rochdale in the FA Cup fifth round on Sunday, having returned in the fourth-round replay win over Newport County on Feb. 7.

In between, Alderweireld was left out of the squad for the matches against Arsenal and Juventus, although Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said the player believed he was ready for the Champions League round-of-16 first leg in Turin.

Martinez has spoken to Alderweireld in the last week and told Het Laatste Nieuws: "I have recently had a good conversation with Toby Alderweireld.

"I'm happy that Spurs take their time and don't rush him back. But of course Toby would have liked to have played against Juventus. His situation will need time."

Alderweireld's return has been further complicated by his ongoing contract impasse with Spurs, with a source close to the situation telling ESPN FC that the latest round of talks had broken down last month.

The defender's £50,000-a-week deal is due to expire in 2019 and Spurs are currently unwilling to meet his wage demands.

They can trigger an option to extend his contract to 2020, but that would activate a buyout clause allowing him to leave if a £25 million bid is received before the final two weeks of the summer 2019 window.

Martinez said: "Toby has become one of the most consistent defenders in the Premier League.

"It's normal that his situation draws a lot of attention, certainly when he's nearing the end of his contract. But I think that he'll end this season in top shape."

Toby Alderweireld
Toby Alderweireld's Spurs contract expires next year.

The former Everton and Wigan boss also hailed the performance of Mousa Dembele, another of Spurs' Belgium internationals, in the draw at Juventus.

"We all know what Mousa can do on a football pitch," he said. "It's when he did it and the manner he did it. You're 2-0 down in the Champions League against Juventus, a team that is always flirting with winning the Champions League, in a full stadium.

"And he started to impose his personality and affect the game in a manner that I haven't seen many players do. That's what Mousa can do.

"That's why it's so important for players to keep fit, be in the best moment physically because then their talent shines. Clearly Mousa is showing a very good consistent level with Spurs, fighting in every single corner."

Asked whether Dembele and Manchester City's Kevin de Bruyne could replicate their domestic form for Belgium at the World Cup, Martinez said: "You're talking about players that have outstanding quality.

"Like any team, you need the right structure, the right balance, it depends on the opposition, about the role you have in that game, if you have to fight for possession or not.

"Mousa is developing as a specialist in that No. 6 role. He's done really good things for the national team in that position already -- when he came on against Greece in our [World Cup qualifying] game in Brussels, and he helped the team a lot with his performance against Russia [in a friendly draw] -- he was the real playmaker in the side.

"Those are moments we need to bring together. We need to get the best out of the players we have in becoming a team."

Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.

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