Jan Vertonghen, Tottenham Agree to Contract Extension Through 2020

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2018

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 11: Jan Vertonghen of Tottenham Hotspur looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League Group B match between FC Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur at Camp Nou on December 11, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Aliaga/MB Media/Getty Images)
MB Media/Getty Images

Jan Vertonghen will remain a Tottenham Hotspur player until 2020 after the north London club activated a clause to extend his contract on Tuesday.

Spurs made the announcement on the team's official website. It means the Belgium international centre-back will prolong a stay in the Premier League he began in 2012.

Securing Vertonghen for another year rates as a minor coup for the Lilywhites and manager Mauricio Pochettino. The 31-year-old is a versatile defender who gives Spurs a plethora of options at the back.

Vertonghen has helped Spurs become a fixture in the Champions League in recent seasons.
Vertonghen has helped Spurs become a fixture in the Champions League in recent seasons.Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Vertonghen is equally comfortable in a back four as he is as part of a three-man defence. Comfortable on the ball dating back to his days with Ajax, Vertonghen is also a force in the air at both ends of the pitch.

Having Vertonghen in the lineup means Pochettino can rely on at least one calming presence no matter who he pairs with the capable veteran.

Yet while rubber stamping a contract extension is good news, Spurs are set to miss Vertonghen's qualities in the short-term:

It means Tottenham face something of a defensive crisis ahead of Wednesday's Carabao Cup quarter-final against derby rivals Arsenal. Pochettino insisted the focus is on the Gunners, despite having to distance himself from rumours he will replace Jose Mourinho at Manchester United after the 55-year-old was sacked on Tuesday.

United confirmed showing Mourinho the door with a statement on the club's official website. The Red Devils are in sixth place, 19 points off the summit and 11 points adrift of the top four, 13 behind third-placed Tottenham.

Pochettino quickly became a hot name to replace Mourinho. Former United right-back Gary Neville, who works as a pundit for Sky Sports, told Sky Sports News the Argentinian is the best fit: "If I look at the values of United, you look at Pochettino's belief in young players at Southampton and with Tottenham."

However, Pochettino cooled any such talk he's about to leave Tottenham, per David Hytner of the Guardian:

"After nearly five years as manager of Tottenham. I cannot answer this type of question because this type of rumour happens in this business, in football. This business, we know very well – the rumours, a lot of rumours happen but it’s not my business what happens in another club." 

Pochettino has cooled talk he will leave Spurs for Manchester United.
Pochettino has cooled talk he will leave Spurs for Manchester United.IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

Pochettino playing down speculation he will move on is good news for Vertonghen. The pair have been key in helping Spurs achieve UEFA Champions League football in each of the last three seasons.

While Pochettino has developed young talent, he's also leaned on the experience of players like Vertonghen, with the latter the closest Spurs have to a manager on the pitch.

Keeping Vertonghen is also good news for Tottenham's project amid the ongoing uncertainty involving fellow centre-back Toby Alderweireld. His contract is up next summer, but Spurs do have the option of activating a one-year extension, a clause featuring a temporary release fee worth £25 million.

If Alderweireld goes, Vertonghen will become more important, particularly as a positive influence for 22-year-old Davinson Sanchez and 20-year-old Juan Foyth.

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