(Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen says that players who are free agents when the season ends will be coveted more than others as clubs look to rebound from the financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Professional football has been suspended across the major European leagues due to the pandemic and questions remain over whether players whose contracts end on June 30 will be allowed to continue playing for clubs if the season is extended.
Vertonghen, who will be a free agent himself when his contract with Spurs ends this season, said he is looking at offers from teams in Italy and Spain but has not ruled out re-signing with the London club.
“The lockdown has brought a lot of uncertainty to the transfer market and, strangely enough, it has only had a positive effect on interest,” Vertonghen told Belgian TV channel Play Sports.
“Of course I’m free and many clubs don’t have the money to do transfers. Free players like me are even more coveted in the coronavirus crisis.
“But I will wait a little longer, because I really want to sign for the right club, that could also be Tottenham again... Since January, a number of clubs have come forward with serious proposals. Spain and Italy are certainly options.”
Vertonghen said fellow Belgium internationals — Napoli forward Dries Mertens and Paris St Germain defender Thomas Meunier — are in the same boat with their contracts also ending in June.
“In any case, it should be a club with a lot of ambition,” Vertonghen added. “I want to continue at the highest level for a few more years and preferably in the Champions League.
“I would really like to play in Europe and would like to learn another language.”
Spurs were eighth in the Premier League standings before the season was suspended — seven points adrift of the top four.
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis