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Pochettino: Vincent Janssen’s exile is professional, not personal

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Thicc Vin is playing with the U23s as Spurs tries to find him a new home where he can resurrect his career.

Norwich City v Tottenham Hotspur U23 - Premier League International Cup Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images

Ever since Harry Kane went down with a sprained ankle and Son Heung-Min went off to the United Arab Emirates with South Korea for the Asian Cup, a small but vocal segment of Tottenham fandom had wondered about the forgotten striker in Tottenham Hotspur’s squad: Vincent Janssen.

The Dutch striker, whom Spurs purchased from AZ Alkmaar in the summer of 2016 for £17m, has fallen so far afield of Mauricio Pochettino’s plans that he was not given a squad number for the Premier League this fall. Janssen opted to have surgery early in the season, but has returned to feature for Spurs’ U23 squad a few times in the past couple of weeks, scoring a couple of goals.

The idea is obviously to put Janssen in the shop window and try to offload him yet this month. But why is he not playing for Spurs’ first team right now? Surely, with the options Tottenham currently have available, he should at least be given a look, right? He is, after all, a natural striker who is not under the age of 18.

Mauricio Pochettino made that as clear as possible in today’s press conference, saying that Thicc Vin is (still) not in the club’s plans, and that the reason is professional, not personal.

“I think it’s so clear that now it’s one year and a half that he’s not in our plans. He’s not in Tottenham’s plans, the player. That’s so clear. Not in just the manager’s plans but the club’s plan.

”18 months ago we took the decision for him to try to find a different place to play because for different reasons it didn’t work. That happens in football. The relationship between the player and the club doesn’t work. You need to find the best solution.

”In the same way we are trying to get him fit as soon as possible because he’s training with the U23s at the club and trying to help him find his best and then try to find a club where he can be happy again and try to play but here it’s impossible.”

Nobody’s completely sure what happened, but it was looking like Janssen was all set to depart the club last summer after a season on loan at Fenerbahce, but everything suddenly fell apart. There were murmurs that he rejected several moves, including potential loans and at least one permanent move, but those rumors haven’t really been substantiated. In the end, it doesn’t matter what happened — he didn’t move, wasn’t registered for the Premier League, and ended up training and playing with children this season.

Pochettino tried to be clear, saying that he has nothing against Janssen personally, and that the club is trying to get him to a club where he can resurrect his career.

“It’s very good. I see him in the changing room every day and the restuarant. It’s not a personal problem, it’s about the professional side. For different reasons that professional relationship isn’t working and we need to find a solution. We are trying to find the resolution.

”He got the injury months ago and we’re helping him, trying to find the right place for him to feel again like a player and play football.”

And if you look at the deep rumors, there’s a decent chance that Janssen really could be on the move this time. Twitter account @Lilywhite_Rose, which is pretty close to the U23s and the players on the fringes of the team, noted that there appears to be concrete interest in Thicc Vin’s services, both in England and abroad.

We may not ever know what happened that caused Janssen to fade completely out of Pochettino’s plans. He certainly never showed the goalscoring prowess that he exhibited in the Eredivisie while at Spurs, but Poch has previously given chances to players who seemingly didn’t deserve them, so long as they worked hard. Exhibit A of this is Moussa Sissoko.

And maybe it’s just that simple — that Janssen is in the doghouse because he either can’t or won’t train to the level that Pochettino demands, or that Poch thinks that he cannot mold Vincent into the kind of player that is useful in his tactical system. And that’s too bad, but I guess every football cult leader needs his pariah.

I still think Janssen is a good striker, though a good striker who is a bad fit at the wrong club at the wrong time. Wherever he lands, I hope he’s able to reignite his career and get back to enjoying football, because he certainly doesn’t seem to be doing it at Spurs.