Jan Vertonghen has hinted he is willing to sign a new contract with Tottenham, while Mauricio Pochettino has described the defender as an “important part of my project”.
A rift between Pochettino and Vertonghen was rumoured to behind the Belgian’s omission from the starting line-up at the beginning of the season, leading to reports claiming Vertonghen could leave in the summer. But he is now back in the team and playing regularly again ahead of Tuesday night’s Champions League clash with Bayern Munich.
The 32-year-old has entered the final year of his contract. Spurs don’t usually offer extensions to players over 30, but 30-year-old Moussa Sissoko signed a new four-year deal last week, which could represent a change in the club’s stance on ageing squad members.
Speaking in a Champions League press conference alongside Pochettino on Monday, Vertonghen backed himself to continue playing at the top level for two more years amid talk he could leave on a free transfer next summer.
“I prefer not to go too deep into that (his future) but there’s always some movement everywhere,” Vertonghen said (via the London Evening Standard).
“It is not a distraction. I’m very aware of my age. I feel fairly young and it doesn’t distract me. I want to play as many games as I can at the highest possible level, that’s what we are doing now and that’s what we are doing tomorrow. I’m very ambitious and I feel I’ve got a couple of good years left in me, that’s definitely how I’m feeling now. I hope I can help the team as long as I can.
“It’s my eighth season now, I had a great past, I’m feeling great at the moment in every single way here. That’s the only thing I want to say about that.”
Pochettino was coy when asked about Vertonghen’s chances of getting a new contract, but the Tottenham boss was keen to emphasise the centre-back’s importance to the club.
“I am open to everything, but [Vertonghen’s contract] is a dealing between the club, him and his agent,” Pochettino said. “Let’s see what happens. Jan, after five years that we are all together, is always an important part of my project. That feeling isn’t going to change.”
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