​Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino left centre-back Jan Vertonghen out of his first-team squad against Aston Villa on Saturday due to the player's fitness levels, reportedly wanting to make a 'statement' by leaving the 32-year-old on the sidelines.

Spurs secured a 3-1 win against the Championship play-off winners but it was far from plain sailing for the Lilywhites on matchday one, having to fight back from a goal down thanks to a debut strike from Tanguy Ndombele and a late Harry Kane brace.

Vertonghen was a notable omission on the opening weekend for Tottenham, and despite Pochettino claiming after the match that the Belgium international was left out for tactical reasons, journalist Gary Jacob claims that it was actually a 'statement' from the manager.


The Argentine was apparently unimpressed with the defender's fitness levels and performances during pre-season, prompting Pochettino to send a warning to the rest of his squad that they're not safe from being dropped if they take their foot off the gas.

Vertonghen is entering the final year of his contract in north London after, like teammate Toby Alderweireld, running down his deal with a view of leaving on a free transfer in 2020.

It's unknown if clubs are actively putting the wheels in motion just yet to snap up Vertonghen next summer, but it has been suggested that the 32-year-old could return to his former club Ajax after seven years away from Amsterdam.

The same has been suggested for Alderweireld, although as the Belgium international is two years younger than his compatriot, it's expected he will enjoy another spell in Europe's top five leagues before eventually re-joining Ajax.