Jan Vertonghen Is One of Tottenham's Greatest Ever Signings & Should Have Gone Out on a High


We get plenty of fairytale endings for athletes in the modern era, especially in football.

Whether it's John Terry and Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea after respective Premier League and Europa League triumphs, or Arjen Robben retiring with a Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double at the end of his final season with Bayern Munich, happy endings get plenty of coverage.

Unfortunately, if you're a Tottenham player, the chances of a happy ending are pretty slim. That is, of course, because Spurs aren't allowed any kind of joy - at most, a top four finish and a decent run in a domestic or European cup is the best one can ask for.

Which makes the case of Jan Vertonghen that little bit more sad.

The Belgian has given the majority of his playing career to a project in north London, having been one of the most coveted and sought-after young defenders during his time with Dutch giants Ajax.

If any player at Tottenham has 'seen it all', so to speak, it's Vertonghen. From Andre Villas-Boas to Tim Sherwood, Mauricio Pochettino to Jose Mourinho, the 32-year-old has sat through the doldrums and enjoyed the relative highs during his eight-year stint with Spurs.

Now everything is pointing towards an exit - whenever the transfer window scheduled for the summer does open - meaning there'll be no fairytale ending for the two-time PFA Team of the Year awardee. 

What's funny about that journey in particular is that the club are in a similar situation, albeit a tad worse, to when Vertonghen joined AVB's side in the summer of 2012.

There have been close calls in the ​Champions League​Premier League, League Cup, and FA Cup, but ultimately no concrete evidence of true progression - ie actually winning something - during that time. Which is sad above all else, given that the next move Vertonghen makes is probably the most crucial of his career.

Whether it's to a messy Barcelona, an on-the-up ​Inter, or a homecoming with Ajax, Vertonghen needs to boost that CV. He deserves to be remembered as one of the best defenders in his time - it's just unfortunate he's stuck with Spurs admirably while Pochettino took the club from fifth to third to second to third to fourth, but never first.

Since Mourinho's arrival in November, Vertonghen has slowly dropped down the pecking order, behind Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez and even Japhet Tanganga, playing the majority of his football at left back.

That position has basically gassed him out: the performance at Wolves was weird in that the defender was roasted pretty much all game by Adama Traore, yet popped up late on to score a dramatic winner.

And that's as good as it's been for Vertonghen, and probably Tottenham, in recent months. He looked distraught after his substitution in the clash with Southampton. And yes, he scored against Norwich in the FA Cup, but Spurs mucked everything up that night, exiting the competition on penalties before Eric Dier traversed the stands to confront a supporter - showing just how broken the club is.

In many ways, it's the ideal time for something new. Christian Eriksen knew things were sliding at Spurs and did everything he could to ensure the club sold him - eventually. That move to Inter was definitely an upgrade, as was Kieran Trippier's departure to Atletico Madrid last summer.

While that pair still have plenty of years left at the highest level, Vertonghen is in his swansong. His stock is undeniably down, but there's still time to go out on a high.

Hopefully, whatever does come next, Vertonghen can experience some genuine success, be it for ​Tottenham, Belgium or another club to round off what has been an impressive career, but just short of an excellent one.