Pochettino: Vertonghen one of Europe's best defenders
Mauricio Pochettino lauded Jan Vertonghen, saying the Tottenham defender was among Europe's best.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino believes Jan Vertonghen is one of the best defenders in Europe, comparing the Belgian to his new dog.
Vertonghen has enjoyed a fine campaign for Spurs, making 35 appearances in all competitions to help his side into fifth in the Premier League and the last 16 in the Champions League.
Pochettino is happy to see the Belgium international, who he said deserved a new contract before his current deal expires in 2019, getting credit.
"He deserves to be praised. In my opinion, he's one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League and in Europe," he said.
"I think he is the complete centre-back. We have worked a lot together to reach the level that he is at today.
"He looks like a 20-year-old because it is easy for him to run – he is like my new dog. Physicality is his talent. It is genetic.
"He is an athlete and he could play until he is 40 because his physical condition comes very naturally to him."
However, Pochettino recalled a time when Vertonghen lacked the same presence – during a 4-0 loss to Liverpool in March 2014, two months before the Argentinian took over.
Pochettino said he used that game to lift the 30-year-old, who he feels has turned into a "complete defender".
"I remember always the Liverpool game. I remember saying, 'Jan, come... How can you be like this? You are going into a battle, no?'" he said.
"You cannot show this body language because you are a warrior. You are different but when you show this energy it is difficult.
"You have to show that you are ready to fight. Now he is a complete defender."