Tottenham "will staunchly resist" any approach for versatile defender Jan Vertonghen this summer, a mindset that aims to deter the reported interest of Barcelona and other European clubs, according to Lyall Thomas of Sky Sports.
Simon Johnson of the London Evening Standard believes the Blaugrana are willing to pay £17.5 million for the 27-year-old's services but insists Spurs "are not willing to lose the centre-half" during a transitional time for the club.
As noted in Johnson's report, Spurs are reportedly set to offer Vertonghen a new deal worth £60,000 per week to stop any interest before a concrete bid is lodged.
Thomas believes new White Hart Lane boss Mauricio Pochettino sees Vertonghen as "fundamental" to his plans in North London. Vertonghen endured a mixed 2013-14 season, appearing just 23 times in a spell of fluctuating form and injuries, as Spurs collectively suffered during the post-Gareth Bale era.
However, Vertonghen impressed at the World Cup with Belgium. Belgium manager Marc Wilmots deployed the ball-playing defender in an left-back role that allowed the former Ajax man to express himself.
This position is considered Vertonghen's weakness by some Spurs fans, but the ambitious star showed himself to be disciplined, effective on the break and solid at the back when supported by the likes of Vincent Kompany and Daniel van Buyten. Vertonghen's winner against South Korea also underlines an individual who is a real goalscoring threat when he heads into the box.
Barca's interest was potentially galvanised after Mustapha Nakhli, the player's agent, name-dropped the Catalan side when discussing Vertonghen's future. Nakhli spoke to Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, (as reported by Tom Sheen of the Independent): "Several teams are interested in Jan. I cannot confirm or deny whether Barcelona are one of them."
Luis Enrique must certainly uncover new defensive talent after the retirement of Carles Puyol. Gerard Pique has rarely produced his best form over the past couple of years and needs a defensive partner who flaunts decent pace to get him out of trouble. Similarly, Jordi Alba's once consistently penetrative attacks have died off somewhat from left-back, meaning competition is needed.
One of Barcelona's great downfalls during last season was the squad's comfortable nature. Many of the first-team regulars appeared to lessen their intensity due to a lack of competition in their position. Players such as Vertonghen—who naturally assert their battling nature—can liven things up.
That's exactly what Enrique has already achieved with the signings of Ivan Rakitic and Luis Suarez. These are not typical transfers for modern Barca—the former, especially—but they possess the instinct to hassle and challenge for each ball. Vertonghen is much the same and can bring a fighting spirit to the Camp Nou's back four.