One of the stars of Tottenham’s resurgence under Mauricio Pochettino has been Belgium international Jan Vertonghen. Although Pochettino’s men are still to obtain a trophy for all their recent progress, they have an FA Cup semi-final date with Chelsea to look forward to and currently occupy a top-four spot, looking likely to retain their Champions League status.
And this week, Vertonghen earmarked the club as helping him to the best form of his career.
“I’m having the best season of my career. Everyone is speaking about my first year when I scored a couple of goals and played well”, Vertonghen told The Sun.
“But it’s ten times easier to stand out when you’re a new player. No-one expects much of you when you join from the Dutch or Belgian league, so it was easier to stand out”.
The Belgian has also highlighted the important role played by manager Mauricio Pochettino in helping him grow as a player.
“I can say I play a lot better than five seasons ago. I’ve been working with the gaffer for three years, and I’ve grown a lot and demand more of myself.
“The boss told me not to be happy with the level I was at. He said I must push myself every day to be better.”
Part of what has helped Spurs excel at the back is not only Vertonghen’s exceptional partnership with compatriot Toby Alderweireld but also the impact of having a defensive-minded midfielder in front of them.
“I’m such a big fan of Victor (Wanyama)”, Vertonghen continued.
“If you look as well how it works with Mousa Dembele or Harry Winks too, it makes it a lot easier for us to keep clean sheets”.
What can’t be understated is that is Spurs are to hold on to their top-four place, for the time being, they must do so without talisman Harry Kane, who is set for a spell on the sidelines with ankle ligament damage. It’s not a fact that Jan Vertonghen has taken for granted, and he acknowledged just how much of a setback Kane’s absence will be to the side.
“It’s a blow, of course. Harry (Kane) is, for me, the best player in the Premier League”, he said of his team-mate.
“But Vincent Janssen can fill that role. With all strikers, it’s just about needing a bit of confidence.”
Speaking about Dutch international Janssen, Vertonghen explained that the forward needs time to flourish and fulfil his potential at White Hart Lane since moving from AZ Alkmaar, where he netted 27 times in the Eredivisie last season.
“I know him very well,” Vertonghen told Sky Sports. “I knew him in Holland and I’ve spoken to two players who played there with him and in the national team. They are confident of his abilities, and so am I.
“He’s very determined to make it here. The striker position is the hardest one in the Premier League. If you look at some top strikers, even they struggle to score goals here.”
Such praise may not stop Mauricio Pochettino looking to add extra firepower to his ranks come the summer, though, and speculation is emerging that the Argentine is ready to bolster his forward line and strengthen his midfield, with the signings of Real Betis forward Antonio Sanabria, and Real Madrid midfield-man Mateo Kovacic, according to the Daily Express and Daily Mirror.
Paraguay international Sanabria, 21, a graduate of Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy, has scored three goals in his last four outings for Betis in La Liga, and Pochettino is thought to be closely monitoring the youngster’s progress. Any approach may well cast doubt on Janssen’s future at the club, rendering this period where the club will be minus Harry Kane all the more important for him to prove a point to the manager.
Meanwhile, Croatian international Kovacic has struggled for minutes at Real since moving from Inter Milan two years ago, and Spurs are thought to be waiting on whether or not Los Blancos will make the 22-year-old available for transfer.
It would cost Spurs though; the midfielder’s buy-out clause is thought to be at around £21.8million. Although, the Mirror believes that Real will entertain a fee of around £17.5million. The signing of Kovacic would add the option of a deep-lying playmaker to the Spurs midfield, with Victor Wanyama, Harry Winks and Eric Dier functioning mainly as more defensive options, whilst other midfielders such as Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli are firmly more attack-minded.
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by MekyCM.