Jan Vertonghen is nearing the end of his Tottenham career, but the Belgian can become a really leader at Spurs under Jose Mourinho.
Harry Kane and Dele are going to lead the Tottenham attack for years to come. What Jose Mourinho needs, however, is a player capable of galvanizing his back line. Jan Vertonghen has the ability and opportunity to emerge as a defensive leader for Spurs.
The best news for the venerable Belgian is that he’s getting healthy at the right time. He missed out on playing for Mourinho immediately upon his arrival in North London with an ankle injury. His presence in Tottenham’s starting XI against Bournemouth on Saturday signalled his return to full health.
His return gives him a golden opportunity to cement his place in Mourinho’s plans. Ben Davies‘ unfortunate ankle injury leaves the Spurs’ gaffer without a left back he really trusts. Danny Rose‘s horrible start against Olympiacos disqualified him from the conversation.
The way Mourinho has Tottenham playing also lends itself perfectly to Vertonghen’s skill set. Essentially, Spurs are operating in a 3-4-3 formation when they don’t have the ball. Serge Aurier is being freed on the right flank to focus his energies almost entirely on attacking. That leaves the two central defenders and the left back left behind to anchor the defence in front of goal.
While Vertonghen likes to get forward and wander into the final third upon occasion, it’s not his strong suit as a player. What he’s really best at is closing down elite attackers who try to attack Spurs down the right hand side of the formation. That’s precisely what Mourinho wants from his starting left back at the moment.
Vertonghen is also an excellent distributor of the ball from the back. He lacks the ability to ping deep crosses down the pitch like his countryman Toby Alderweireld, but he’s arguably a better passer when it comes to linking with the midfield. Mourinho won’t require Vertonghen to orchestrate the beginning of his attack, but the solid defender has more than enough skill to do what’s required.
When you put it all together in one package it’s apparent that Vertonghen is the perfect left back for how Mourinho wants Tottenham to play at the moment. If anything, it’s an overly simplistic job for a player who has proven his capability to do more in his career. At this stage of his career, that could allow Vertonghen to achieve a sort of renaissance under his new Portuguese manager.
If that occurs, look for Super Jan to reemerge as a fan favourite and locker room leader again for Spurs. He may not be a long-term solution for Mourinho and Tottenham, but he could easily become a valuable bridge to the club’s future.