Former Tottenham Hotspur captain Gary Mabbutt has claimed the side have missed central defender Jan Vertonghen this season.
The experienced 33-year-old left the club last summer after eight years in North London to join Portuguese Primeira Liga side Benfica on a three-year contract.
Despite remaining an integral part of the squad and playing 30 times in all competitions for Spurs last season, the 126-cap Belgium star was allowed to leave on a free transfer after his contract expired.
Vertonghen, who is valued at £6.3 million (as per Transfermarkt), has enjoyed an impressive campaign in Portugal, averaging 7.04 across 21 league matches (SofaScore), leading to Mabbutt expressing to Football FanCast that the centre-back may have been allowed to leave prematurely:
“For whatever reason, I think he felt that he wanted a change.
“I thought he brought a lot to the club during his time there and he’s still captain of Belgium and doing exceedingly well.
“Of course you miss a player like him, I think that’s probably an obvious statement.”
The 59-year-old added: “Two or three seasons ago I thought Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld were the best partnership in the world, working together for club and country.
“And you’re pushing each other every time you play to make sure you reach the level you want to reach. So I thought it was a fantastic partnership, and I was very disappointed personally when Jan went.”
Despite being synonymous with making sides resilient, Jose Mourinho has struggled to produce the watertight defensive operation the Portuguese manager has become famous for.
Ultimately, given the capitulations suffered at times this season, none arguably worse than the collapse against Dinamo Zagreb that ensured a humiliating Europa League exit, having a player of the Belgian’s experience still at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium could’ve been beneficial.