Tottenham Hotspur: Can Jan Vertonghen Become the Permanent Left Back?

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistOctober 29, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 01:  Jan Vertonghen of Tottenham Hotspur in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Norwich City at White Hart Lane on September 1, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Going into the start of the English Premier League season, Jan Vertonghen was considered to be one of the best defensive signings of the summer transfer window. Nine matches into the EPL season, the 25-year-old Belgian is becoming even more valuable with every match.

Vertonghen started out the season at his natural center back position but shifted over to left back after injuries hit both left backs on the Tottenham roster, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Kyle Naughton.

Assou-Ekotto started the season alongside Vertonghen in defense as the club's first choice left back but things went south after the third match of the season when the Cameroon international went down with a knee injury.

The easy replacement for Assou-Ekotto at left back was Kyle Naughton, but the 23-year-old Englishman also only lasted three matches before he went down with a foot injury.

With both of his left backs out injured, manager Andre Villas-Boas first turned to Gareth Bale, who played left back for most of his career, but that experiment lasted just one match before the Welshman moved back to his position in the midfield.

For their match against Manchester United on September 29th, Villas-Boas employed Vertonghen at left back and the Belgian has been starting at that position ever since that match.

Vertonghen has been an ever-present force on the left side of the pitch since his introduction to the position in the Spurs squad.

The versatile Belgian has been able to link up with Bale on the left wing in the attack and also has been a strong defender at the position as well.

Now, with the return of Assou-Ekotto from injury and a crowded, difficult fixture list ahead in the next month, the question for Villas-Boas is who should start at left back. Many would suggest to stick with the player in form, who would be Vertonghen, to play in the bigger matches against the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal. With the return of Assou-Ekotto expected around mid-November, Villas-Boas may favor the player who was in his opening day starting lineup instead of Vertonghen.

Assou-Ekotto started over Vertonghen at the beginning of the season and the Belgian was on the bench as a player that was a victim of a defensive surplus.

There is a possibility that the two could start alongside each other with Vertonghen in the center and Assou-Ekotto on the left side, but Spurs have a crop of center backs that are also performing well at the moment including William Gallas and Steven Caulker.

No matter who Villas-Boas decides to start at left back, he will have a world-class player at the position.

Villas-Boas also faces a problem that every manager would love to have in being able to choose from two healthy world-class players at the position instead of having to scramble to find players to fill the position because of injury.