Mauricio Pochettino has admitted he clashes with Jan Vertonghen often in training, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Vertonghen has made over 200 appearances for Tottenham since joining from Ajax in 2012.
The Belgian looked readymade for the Premier League from the moment he arrived in England, but his performances began to dip before the arrival of Pochettino.
Over the last couple of seasons, and particularly during the current campaign, Vertonghen has emerged as one of Europe’s best centre-backs.
That hasn’t always been the case, mainly because he has been playing next to Toby Alderweireld, who often receives more praise than his countryman.
But during Alderweireld’s absence through injury, Vertonghen has flourished in a centre-back partnership with another former Ajax defender, Davinson Sanchez.
Speaking to reporters ahead of Spurs’ trip to Crystal Palace this weekend, Mauricio Pochettino explained how Vertonghen has grown as a character.
“I remember his body language when I watched the game against Liverpool, the season before we came. He was slouched in the tunnel,” said Pochettino. (Quotes via Ham&High.)
“I told him when I came ‘why are you like that? You are here for a battle! You cannot show this body language – you are a warrior! It is difficult after showing this energy to go out and take part in a battle and fight’.
“We worked a lot on this aspect and yes, it’s true that we clash a lot in training because he’s clever and always has an argument and a reason why, but in the end I appreciate a lot his efforts in trying to give to the team what we expect from him.”
Pochettino also revealed Vertonghen is likely to be rewarded with a new contract as a result of his fine recent performances – news certain to be music to Tottenham fans’ ears.