Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen gave an interesting interview with the Guardian in the build-up to today’s North London derby, talking about nearly signing for Arsenal instead, and how he and his team-mates relish seeing their rivals under pressure.
The Belgian was a target for the Gunners over the summer, but he revealed a few months ago that Arsene Wenger had plans to try him in midfield, which he didn’t take too well.
“Arsenal wanted me to be a controller in the midfield, an Emmanuel Petit-type. They had Vermaelen. I knew it would be very difficult for me to play in central defence if the captain and one of their best players plays there. You mention that when we were talking with clubs and then they say: ‘Yeah, but you can play somewhere else?’ I wanted clubs to get me not just for the bench but for the position I wanted to play.”
Now the former Ajax man watches on and admits he enjoys seeing Arsenal struggling, saying that the recent game against Bayern Munich gave everyone at Tottenham a lift. He said:
“It gives you a lift. We look at ourselves but then we see the opponent is under pressure, in trouble, and you want to take advantage of that. I hope we can put them under a lot of pressure in the game.
“Because we are not the team who finished first or second for the last 10 years, we are not under the pressure Arsenal are, but we put ourselves under pressure because we deserve to be up there and have the qualities to play in the Champions League.”
Funny because – while he has impressed – he has ended up being used at both centre-back and left-back at Spurs, depending on what they needed, so he’s still ended up in something of a utility role. Perhaps he’s bitter that Arsenal couldn’t guarantee him a first-choice spot in their back four?
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