May 18, 2014
Jan Vertonghen hasn’t been seen in a Tottenham shirt since he limped off at Anfield, and it’s now being suggested that he’s waiting to find out who the club’s new manager will be before choosing whether to remain at the club.
Or, another way of putting it, he hasn’t quite decided whether he’s ready to flounce out of White Hart Lane and hold his teammates responsible for Spurs’ lack of Champions League football. The Belgian has been characterised as a dressing-room leader in the past, yet this season he’s shown himself to be anything but – Vertonghen has been an enormous liability and someone who absolutely cannot be relied upon in big game situations. Put him in a pressurised scenario against a top-tier opponent and his default response will be to cough-up a game-altering error.
He wants to play for a bigger club, that’s become very apparent, and why should Tottenham tolerate that kind of flimsy attitude from someone who – at best – has been a middle of the pack performer this year? Football teams need strong characters and dominant personalities, not turncoats who refuse to front-up when times get tough.
This isn’t Gareth Bale or Luka Modric, because talented footballer though Vertonghen unquestionably is at his best, his ‘best’ is so rarely seen now that he’s become very replaceable. Even Modric – after he had spent the Summer of 2011 demanding a transfer to Chelsea – was able to muster the required professionalism to be a positive influence during the following the season, but Vertonghen’s recent, dramatic slump in application doesn’t suggest he’s capable of anything similar.
He might well be a valuable player to another team, but with his attitude remaining the same he is of little on-pitch worth to Tottenham – and actually, Daniel Levy would probably be better served by selling him this Summer and reinvesting the revenue in a player with a less transient attitude.
Maybe a new manager would appease him, but then how long would it be before this kind of behaviour repeats itself? What happens if Mauricio Pochettino, for example, only leads Spurs to fifth or sixth place next season? Presumably Vertonghen would look for a way out again – and by that stage he would be a year older and twelve months further into his contract.
This isn’t a young player who doesn’t know better, this is a twenty-seven year-old international in his prime – his personality is not going to mature any time soon.
Take the money and run, or face exactly the same problems in the future. He’s a soft-minded player who thinks he belongs above his current level – let him be somebody else’s problem.
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