Areas Where Atletico Madrid's Toby Alderweireld Can Improve This Season
Last year, Toby Alderweireld moved from Dutch side Ajax to Spanish side Atletico Madrid.
In his first year in Spain, Atletico won La Liga, but Alderweireld didn't get to play many matches. In 2013-14, he made just 12 appearances for his new club.
After a relatively successful World Cup, where he reached the quarter-final representing Belgium, Alderweireld will be relishing the chance to break into Atletico's first XI.
To do that, he will need to develop a little bit more and become a better player.
Here, we look at the areas Alderweireld can improve this season.
A quick look at Alderweireld's 2013-14 stats at Squawka reveals his pass accuracy was 75 percent on average last year. For a defender who is sometimes asked to play as a full-back, that is not an impressive stat.
Belgium teammate Jan Vertonghen, who plays for Tottenham Hotspur, had a pass accuracy of 83 percent last year.
At Ajax, Alderweireld was part of a side that liked to play a short passing game. Defenders were asked to slowly but surely build up attacks from the back.
To become a better player, Alderweireld must learn to recognise the moments he can play a daring long ball, and when he needs to play it safe.
Despite being a natural centre-back, Alderweireld often plays as a full-back, both for the Belgian national team and Atletico Madrid.
When he played for Ajax, Alderweireld played in the middle of defence, but he would often surge forward to join attacks.
He is good at heading the ball, as he demonstrated when he scored from a corner for Atletico against Malaga last year. He also has a mean shot.
It's clear Alderweireld has plenty of offensive capabilities, and in order to become a world-class defender, he must cultivate this attacking side to his game.
At Ajax, Alderweireld was a vital player. As such, he was sure of his place in manager Frank de Boer's starting XI—game after game, season after season.
At Atletico Madrid, Alderweireld has so far failed to become as important as he was at Ajax. At the age of 25, that is a problem.
Young players like Alderweireld need to play every week. Only then can they evolve their game and fulfil their potential. Without playing time, Alderweireld's development could stagnate, and eventually his reputation could fade into oblivion.
To become a better player, it is essential for Alderweireld to become a regular at Atletico Madrid.
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