When Jan Vertonghen announced his arrival in the Premier League by finishing a dazzling solo run to help Tottenham record a historic 3-2 victory over Manchester United, the Lilywhites thought they were onto a real winner – a genuine successor to the retired Ledley King.
The Belgium international is still considered to be one of the best in the division when enjoying top form, but his performances since the end of the 2012/13 campaign have often lacked quality and conviction.
At the same time, Vertonghen has just put his White Hart Lane future in serious doubt by ending contract negotiations without signing a new deal. Having been left out of the side that lost 4-1 to Manchester City earlier this month, it appears Mauricio Pochettino could already be preparing for life without the 27 year-old.
Thus, it’s time for Spurs to consider some replacements to Vertonghen, should he be lured away by a lucrative offer in January. And just in case they’re short of a few ideas, we’ve listed FIVE.
Tottenham already appear to be keeping one eye on Basel prodigy Fabian Schar, by far the most likeminded defender to Jan Vertonghen in this article:
— Talking THFC™ (@TalkingTHFC) September 20, 2014
Indeed, the 22 year-old centre-back is famed for his front-footed mentality and ability to bring the ball out the back. He even takes spot kick duties for Basel on occassion – with a return of nine in 54 for the Super League champions in addition to three in eight for the Swiss national team – and once netted this wonder-strike whilst a youngster at FC Wil:
There’s substance to Schar’s style however – statistically, he was the best defender in the Champions League last season:
And that’s been followed up this season with a Man of the Match display against Liverpool in Group B:
Here’s a clip of the 6 foot 1 defender in action:
Schar’s contract at St. Jakob-Park has entered its final season, making a January move all the more likely. The papers claim he’s valued at under £10million by Basel, but previously linked to Barcelona, a plethora of clubs will be baying for the Swiss international’s services in the new year.
Arsenal have already been mooted as potential suitors, as well as Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan.
Schalke skipper Benedickt Howedes has always been rated by those inside and outside of the Bundesliga, but World Cup performances as an ever-present member of Germany’s defence proved his capability to play at an even higher level.
Despite measuring in at around 6 foot 3 and by no means famed for his agility, the 26 year-old demonstrated his intelligence, versatility and impressive understanding of the game as Germany’s No.3. Here’s a clip of Howedes in action for Die Mannschaft:
And a look at the towering defender’s stats over the last few seasons:
A natural leader with an imposing physique and varied all-round game, Howedes would be a huge asset for any squad. He rejected Premier League advances during the summer but teased potential suitors by admitting he would consider a move abroad in the future.
Under contract at the Veltins Arena until 2017 however, the Miners will happily demand an excessive fee for their captain. Furthermore, any interest in Howedes from White Hart Lane looks set to be rivalled by Manchester United:
— Goal UK (@GoalUK) October 29, 2014
Matija Nastasic impressed in his debut campaign for Manchester City, pushing Joleon Lescott out of the first team and claiming the 2013 Young Player of the Year award at the Etihad. Here’s some of the highlights from his accolade-winning campaign:
But inconsistent form, injuries and City’s recruitment since has seen him plummet down the pecking order. His last appearance for the Premier League champions was amid a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal in the summer’s Community Shield – just a matter of days later, they completed a £32million swoop for France international Eliaquim Mangala.
Still 21 years of age however and well proven in the Premier League, the 16-cap Serbian international is well worth the punt for another English side. Here’s a look at his stats from the last few seasons:
Composure with and without the ball, in addition to his impressive reading of the game, particularly stand out as Nastasic’s strengths, as shown in the below video:
Yet to make 100 competitive club appearances in his short career, Tottenham may be put off by the Serbian’s limited experience and recent injury problems.
But Nastasic has already featured at a higher level than the majority of European defenders his age, which has attracted interest from Arsenal and Roma to name a few:
Arsenal, Roma and Inter in race for £15m-rated Matija Nastasic http://t.co/l58PuNgT1Z
— redditsoccer (@redditsoccer) July 23, 2014
London rivalries aside, West Ham contract rebel Winston Reid could prove to be an astute addition to Tottenham’s squad in January.
The 26 year-old may not be the most talented defender to ever grace White Hart Lane, and compared Jan Vertonghen’s ball-playing brand of defending, represents the opposite end of the centre-back spectrum – a throwback to simpler, more attritional times.
But the New Zealand captain has shown remarkable consistency since the East Londoners returned to the Premier League in 2012, claiming the Hammer of the Year award twelve months later. Here’s a look at the 6 foot 3 centre-half in action:
Indeed, Reid is a master of the nuts and bolts of the trade – his simple-yet-effective style, in addition to his leadership qualities, could be the perfect remedy for a Spurs defence that’s conceded 13 times already this season. Here’s the West Ham star’s vitals from the last few campaigns:
Reid’s Upton Park contract is winding down and a new deal is looking increasingly unlikely, with the defender claiming he’s in ‘no hurry’ to agree new terms:
— Breaking London News (@LondonNewsUK) October 15, 2014
That could see him snapped up for a pittance by the Lilywhites, but there’s intense competition for his signature throughout the Premier League:
— Manchester United (@WorldManUtd) October 6, 2014
Could Jan Vertonghen’s hypothetical departure convince Spurs to revive their interest in Villarreal defender Mateo Musacchio?
The Lilywhites came close to signing the Argentine centre-back during the summer, before eventually settling for compatriot Federico Fazio:
— Addicted to Spurs (@AddictedtoSpurs) August 6, 2014
It appears the north Londoners were eventually put off by price-tag, whilst third-party issues further complicated the deal.
But as Musacchio continues to impress for the Yellow Submarines, with them currently enjoying the sixth-best goals conceded record in the division, he’s looking more and more like a wise investment. Here’s a look at his stats from last term:
And this season:
Described by Goal.com as ‘the perfect Pochettino defender‘ for his quality on the ball and suitability in a high-pressing defensive line, Musacchio is a transfer target well worth revisiting. Here’s a look at him in action:
If valuations were the predominant issue during the summer, Vertonghen’s departure should give Spurs far greater financial scope to sign the South American.