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Jan Vertonghen recently spoke about the potential fallout from Tottenham Hotspur missing out on Champions League qualification, which was interpreted by some as a "qualify or I'm off" ultimatum.
In an interview with the Evening Standard’s Tom Collomosse, Vertonghen said:
What I want is to be playing in the Champions League with Tottenham, so I hope we get in this year.
Do I have a decision to make if we don’t? I can’t say anything about that. Let’s see after the end of the season, after the World Cup.
As things stand, the chances of Vertonghen playing Champions League football next season with Tottenham are slim.
With 10 games remaining in the Premier League season, Spurs trail third-placed Arsenal by six points (they are four points adrift of Manchester City, who are currently in the fourth and final qualification spot, but the latter have three games in hand).
A late charge could see Spurs nudge their way into the top four, but that’s not something the club’s fans should be putting their house on.
So, what if they do not make it?
Reading between the lines, Vertonghen is likely to seek out a move. That is the view of the Mail’s Rob Shepherd, who has suggested the Belgian defender is a target for Liverpool.
There is certainly plenty to back that up. Central defence is an area Liverpool will look to pep up, with Daniel Agger in the treatment too often for comfort and Kolo Toure very much in the autumn of his career.
The Reds are well on course to secure a spot in the Champions League, which would bring with it added matches on account of the Reds having failed to qualify for any European competition this season.
There’s plenty going for the move, but there are also stumbling blocks. It’s likely to be a two-word stumbling block going by the name of Daniel Levy.
Spurs chairman Levy is renowned for his tough negotiating skills, which would see him demand every last penny if he was to sanction a sale.
If you couple that with the likely reticence from Tottenham with regard to selling to a Premier League rival, there is enough to make a deal with Liverpool look unlikely to come off.
Believability Meter: Medium
Liverpool are likely to be in the market for at least one centre-back in the summer, and Vertonghen fits the profile of a ball-playing defender Brendan Rodgers would target.
But Tottenham may well favour selling to an overseas club should Vertonghen make it clear he wants to head for a new challenge.