LONDON - Belgium defender Toby Alderweireld says he was motivated to impress at the World Cup to prove that his prolonged exclusion from Tottenham Hotspur's first team last season was "unjustified."
The 29-year-old played a majority of Tottenham's matches in the opening stages of last campaign before a hamstring injury disrupted his season and, despite declaring himself fit in January, Alderweireld made just six appearances since November. Despite his Premier League snub, Alderweireld featured in six of Belgium's seven World Cup matches in Russia as manager Roberto Martinez's side secured a historic third-placed finish at the tournament.
"I was very focused on this tournament," Alderweireld told British media. "I wanted to prove something to me, show that the period before the tournament in which I, for whatever reason, did not play, it was unjustified. I wanted to show that I'm still Toby, same as in November."
Alderweireld has been linked with a move to several European clubs and the full-back says he is uncertain about his future although he is planning to start next season at Tottenham. The north London club play AS Roma, Barcelona and AC Milan in the pre-season International Champions Cup tournament along with a friendly against Girona before their Premier League opener against Newcastle United on August 11.
Meanwhile, Newcastle United striker Ayoze Perez is loving life at the Premier League club and has dismissed reports that he could move back to teams in his native Spain. The 24-year-old, who joined Newcastle in 2014, excelled for the Magpies last season and was their top scorer with eight goals and four assists in 36 Premier League appearances.
— Alderweireld Toby (@AlderweireldTob) July 14, 2018
His impressive form in the second half of the season has led to media reports of La Liga clubs Real Sociedad and Real Betis being interested in bringing Perez back to Spain. "I want to be at Newcastle going forward, 100 per cent," Perez told Chronicle Live.
"I am living my dream of playing in the Premier League, playing for a massive team, and so it's good to be here and I love playing for this club. Obviously it is good to have interest from those Spanish teams, because it makes you feel like you are doing something great, and shows I must be doing something right. But honestly I'm happy in England, I'm happy playing in the Premier League."
Perez said that he was motivated to drive Newcastle's growth next season as the forward hopes to earn a cap for Spain's senior national team. Newcastle have five pre-season friendlies, starting with Irish top-flight club St. Patrick's Athletic later on Tuesday.