Inside Lane: Spurs face decisive month in bid to keep world-class duo
PUBLISHED: 07:45 06 March 2014 | UPDATED: 15:15 06 March 2014
Tottenham blogger Declan Olley says Spurs need to give Hugo Lloris and Jan Vertonghen Champions League football or the Europa League trophy to match their ambitions.
March is a decisive month for Spurs. If things go well, with positive results against Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, we could see the club reigniting their charge for the top four - and stay on course for silverware in the Europa League.
On the other hand, a poor sequence of results would almost certainly mean the end of the Champions League dream for another season, and if the challenge from Portuguese giants Benfica proves too great it will mean another trophyless season.
Either way, this is going to be a pivotal month in deciding the futures of the two world-class stars that Spurs possess - Hugo Lloris and Jan Vertonghen.
The former has been my player of the season so far and, as a 21-year-old, Lloris is the best goalkeeper I have seen at Tottenham. His dependability, character and class have shone through this season, summed up in the away match at Fulham in December where he ensured Tottenham got a vital three points with some fantastic saves.
As France’s captain, Lloris is reportedly attracting interest from PSG and Monaco, and the view in his homeland does not make for good reading for Spurs followers - French sports website Le10 Sport showed in February that 90 per cent of voters want Lloris to leave White Hart Lane this summer.
Indeed, the 27-year-old hinted in January that he might consider that option if the club fails to make it into the Champions League.
“We’re not at that point yet,” Lloris answered when asked on French TV programme Telefoot about his position if Spurs fail to join Europe’s elite.
“We’ll see how things stand at the end of the season - especially as this season is longer with the World Cup.”
It seems Vertonghen has a similar view. Asked if he would be happy to stay at Spurs if they miss out on the Champions League after the 1-0 defeat to Norwich, the defender replied: “Those are always difficult questions. I can’t say anything about that so let’s see after the end of the season and after the World Cup.”
The Belgian is one of the finest players to grace the White Hart Lane pitch and I believe he would be harder to replace than Lloris.
With the news that Carles Puyol is leaving Barcelona at the end of the season, it would be no surprise to see the Catalans approaching Spurs for Vertonghen.
Lloris and Vertonghen have both spoken of their desire to play in the Champions League with Spurs. However, I feel that if that target cannot be achieved, then winning the Europa League could be the sweetener required to keep these two for at least another season.
For all its criticisms, the Eueopa League is hard to win and the standard has never been higher with the likes of Benfica, Juventus and Napoli still in the competition.
Lloris and Vertonghen have never won a European trophy and winning the Europa League at the Juventus Stadium would certainly be one of the highlights of their careers.
Let’s just hope that by the end of March Spurs’ season is still very much alive, for the sake of these two wonderful players’ futures.
Follow me on Twitter @DeclanOlley