The former Ajax captain had just completed a superb first season in English football, being selected in the PFA team of the season and proving himself a rock at the back for Spurs.
Playing mostly in his favoured central position, Vertonghen nevertheless continued to impress when filling in at left back for the North Londoners, notably scoring from the position in the side's first win at Old Trafford in over 23 years.
But this season just gone, he, as much as anyone else, was both a victim and a cause of Tottenham's defensive instability. The Belgium international had several games at left back where he wholly failed to do his job, and was making noises before Christmas of his unhappiness, but begrudged willingness to fill in there, making a point of saying he would prefer to play in his favoured central position.
Later on in the year there were even rumours he was seeking a move to a Champions League club as Spurs slipped further and further away from the top four.
In Belgium's first World Cup game against Algeria, Vertonghen found himself once more at left-back, and once again proved his inability at that position.
He was given a torrid time by excellent Valencia attacking midfielder Sofiane Feghouli, conceding a sloppy penalty and lucky to just receive a booking as the Algerian burst past him in the box. It ensured a difficult game for the Spurs star, who will have to put up with the fact Chelsea winger Eden Hazard, playing at left wing, is unlucky to do much defensive work.
Given the raft of outstanding central defenders the Red Devils have, and the absence of natural full backs anyway near such a high level, Vertonghen and fellow Ajax graduate Toby Alderweireld have often found themselves deployed as fullbacks, and it may be the only way Marc Wilmots can include all of his talented defenders in one side.
But Spurs should take notice, and invest in the left full back spot at White Hart Lane so that new manager Mauricio Pochettino isn't tempted, or forced, to play the Belgian somewhere he struggles to do himself justice.