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Vertonghen's Versatility May Be His Own Worst Enemy

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10:  (L-R) Jan Vertonghen of Tottenham Hotspur and Moussa Sissoko of Newcastle United challenge for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United at White Hart Lane on November 10, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
Jerrad PetersWorld Football Staff WriterJune 7, 2016

Jan Vertonghen is a central defender. He has said so himself.

“The club know how much I want to play centre-half,” the Tottenham Hotspur man was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail ahead of his Belgian side’s Tuesday friendly against Japan.

Vertonghen has recently played left-back for both Tottenham Hotspur and Belgium.
Vertonghen has recently played left-back for both Tottenham Hotspur and Belgium.Christof Koepsel/Getty Images

He added, “[left-back] doesn’t suit me.”

And he didn’t stop there.

“I think I have done enough to deserve a place [in central defense] now, ideally for every game. ... I can play left-back and I can help the team at times. But everyone knows that I am not a left-back.”

The thing is, he sometimes is a left-back—and quite a good one at that.

Given the injuries suffered by Danny Rose and Kyle Naughton in the first quarter of the Premier League season, Vertonghen has often filled in on the left, with two of Michael Dawson, Younes Kaboul and Vlad Chiriches operating centrally.

And rather than seeing a decrease in performance in the position, manager Andre Villas-Boas has, if anything, seen it enhanced by the 26-year-old.

But Vertonghen, who thought he was going to be used as a centre-back after arriving at Tottenham from Ajax in 2012, dislikes the role—so much, it seems, that he’s willing to speak publicly about the situation.

Aside from the fact that such matters are best kept inside the dressing room, it’s worth pointing out that Vertonghen really has only one person to blame for his continued deployment as a left-back: himself.

And only because he’s actually quite useful as one. His versatility—while an asset to his club—has become his own worst enemy.

Now, it’s likely Villas-Boas will do his best to appease Vertonghen in the January transfer window by acquiring a natural left-back, and a report in The Independent earlier this month suggested that if he couldn’t pry Fabio Coentrao from Real Madrid, he would go after Southampton’s Luke Shaw.

Of course, it would only take an injury to either one of those players for Vertonghen to be thrust back into the role he so detests.

Ironically, he played Tuesday’s match against Japan as a left-back.

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