Belgium World Cup star Jan Vertonghen did warn Tottenham Hotspur in February of his wish to play Champions League football in 2014/15, and even the ruthless negotiators down the Seven Sisters Road will struggle to prevent the 27-year-old’s departure if Barcelona come calling.
Los Blaugrana are in a rush to replace former captain Carles Puyol, who has moved upstairs to the assistant director of football’s seat, and Vertonghen’s name is reportedly the one tattooed to the lips of the Camp Nou bigwigs.
New Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has been busy trying to shore up the Lilywhites’ left-back void, with Swansea’s Ben Davies expected to be lured to White Hart Lane between now and summer’s end, but the potential loss of Vertonghen will jolt his sleepy silly-season into life.
The Argentine may have a crack contingency up his sleeve though, as the north Londoners are thought to be leading the race to sign Everton’s England newboy John Stones.
Stones is one of Europe’s hottest centre-half properties after starring in the Toffees’ seven-game Premier League winning streak between March and April, despite starting the campaign as a nominal right-back.
Club teammate Phil Jagielka is likely to lose his place for England and Everton, should Stones stay on Merseyside in the coming campaign, but the player that cost ex-Toffees boss David Moyes £3m from Barnsley in January 2013 has been attracting interest from all the usual suspects.
Prospective suitors Chelsea and Arsenal are also ready to declare their hand regarding the 20-year-old, but the fluxive centre-half situation at Spurs – who could move on captain Michael Dawson and Younes Kaboul this summer – means Pochettino holds a distinct advantage.
Stones would expect to walk into the Spurs team from the off next term, whether or not Vertonghen leaves, while he’d be bound to bench duty for some time at the Emirates or Stamford Bridge.