Tottenham star Jan Vertonghen has hinted that he may leave the club if they fail to qualify for the Champions League – where could he go?
The Belgian international has established himself as one of the top centre backs in the Premier League, but that means he wants to play in Europe's premier competition, and with Spurs looking unlikely to break into the top four this season, the former Ajax man may look to leave the club.
Asked whether he would be willing to play in the Europa League again next season, Vertonghen said; “Those are always difficult questions. What I want is to play in the Champions League with Tottenham, so hopefully I will get there this year.”
His coy attitude towards missing out on a Champions League place will concern Spurs fans and the management at White Hart Lane, especially as a number of clubs are likely to be alerted by the potential of stealing the 26-year-old away from North London.
With a rumoured £40,000 a week wage on offer at Spurs, Vertonghen will be well aware of the possibility of earning a lot more elsewhere alongside top European competition, and his play over the last two seasons should have plenty of teams interested in him – but who?
A team notorious for preferring centre backs with technical ability, Barcelona would be an ideal club to target Vertonghen. His ability in possession as well as the Catalan side's need to improve the centre of their defence should make the Belgian a primary target – not to mention how his year of experience with Gareth Bale could help Gerardo Martino's side plan how to deal with the Real Madrid man.
Spurs would really hate to sell their star defender to a league rival, but City are in desperate need of a top centre back. Martin Demichelis, Matija Nastasic and Joleon Lescott have failed to impress, and manager Manuel Pellegrini will be looking for the perfect partner to Vertonghen's international team mate Vincent Kompany this summer. With plenty of money to spend, City could be the team to tempt Spurs into the sale of Vertonghen.
The outside bet would be Rafael Benitez's Napoli. The Serie A side look like a good bet to qualify for the Champions League again, but Benitez is looking for a partner for Raul Albiol. He's been linked with moves for his former Liverpool defenders Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger, but Vertonghen is younger and arguably more talented than those two – it make take some convincing for him to move to Italy, but if he wants consistent Champions League football, Napoli may be a realistic destination.
image: © Shiraz Chakera