Spurs defender Kevin Wimmer: I’ve learned a lot from Jan Vertonghen and hope to emulate him
Tottenham defender Kevin Wimmer says he has learned a lot from Jan Vertonghen and hopes to emulate him over the coming years as he prepares to replace his injured team-mate.
Wimmer joined Spurs last summer, arriving from German club Cologne for £4.3million, but he has found playing opportunities hard to come by, waiting patiently in line behind Vertonghen, who is also a left-sided centre-back and Mauricio Pochettino’s favoured player in the role.
However, Vertonghen suffered a knee ligament injury in the Lilywhites’ last Premier League outing at Crystal Palace and Wimmer – who replaced the Belgian that day before playing throughout Spurs’ FA Cup victory over Colchester United on Saturday – is now set for an extended run in the side.
“I can feel that the fans are sad about Jan’s injury,” said the 23-year-old. “It’s also [sad] for us players – it’s never good to see a good player get injured and he’s a very nice guy.
“Of course I tried in my first month here to learn a lot from him. He’s a brilliant defender, I think he’s one of the best in the Premier League, so we’re going to miss him of course, but he will come back as strong as he was before. I’ll try to give my best and make the fans of Tottenham satisfied.”
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Pochettino stated on Friday that Wimmer is “like Vertonghen but younger” and the summer signing said: “I try to be, because he’s also very calm on the ball and I always try to be calm at the back and play good passes in front.
“In training sessions, he’s a big defender, I learn a lot from him and maybe in a few years I can be as strong as him.
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“Am I ready to play in the Premier League? I think so. I’ve already played a few games in the Europa League and in the FA Cup against Leicester. I’ve seen that with good performances from me it’s also possible to play in the Premier League.
“I already had my first minutes last week [against Palace after Vertonghen limped off] and it was nice. It would be nice for me to now get 90 minutes in the Premier League.
“Of course I feel ready, that’s what I train for. It’s a very tough league, you have to work hard for every 90 minutes but I’m ready and I do everything I can do.
“Our target is to reach the top four but this season you can see that every club is very tight together. You don’t know what’s going to happen. We’ll try our best and see at the end what we can reach.”
Wimmer only played three games in the first half of the season but he feels he has improved during his time at Tottenham, benefiting greatly in particular from Pochettino’s tough training methods and the club’s approach to nutrition.
“I’ve learned quite a lot, I have to say,” he said. “I’ve improved myself a lot. I’ve got a very good feeling - my body shape, everything, is much better than before I came here.
“Training sessions in pre-season were very hard and also during the season. If you don’t play too much you can work a lot on your fitness, and I always did a lot of extra work and I can feel that.
“A lot of people said ‘he’s not playing and that’s bad’. Of course, it’s always better if you play every weekend but I try to do my best and try to improve myself. In the training sessions here we have so many brilliant players and you can learn from everybody.
“My body fat went down a lot because of the training. I take care of what I eat every day, all the time, and I feel very good at the moment and I just want to keep it like this.
“My body shape was also good when I was in Germany and when I came here, but we have such good training, hard training, and we get such good food. That’s what we didn’t have in Germany, so it’s good for me and good for everybody as well.
“I didn’t have to cut anything out but at the club you can only eat healthily. I live by myself so it’s easier when you get given something to cook and I don’t have to cook on my own. I can always take something home for dinner, which is nice.
“We have everything we need at Tottenham and I feel very happy to be here. I’ll try to improve myself in the next few months.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs