Spurs secured a 3-1 win against the Championship play-off winners but it was far from plain sailing for the Lilywhites on matchday one, having to fight back from a goal down thanks to a debut strike from Tanguy Ndombele and a late Harry Kane brace.
Vertonghen was a notable omission on the opening weekend for Tottenham, and despite Pochettino claiming after the match that the Belgium international was left out for tactical reasons, journalist Gary Jacob claims that it was actually a statement from the manager.
The Argentine was apparently unimpressed with the defenders fitness levels and performances during pre-season, prompting Pochettino to send a warning to the rest of his squad that theyre not safe from being dropped if they take their foot off the gas.
Vertonghen is entering the final year of his contract in north London after, like teammate Toby Alderweireld, running down his deal with a view of leaving on a free transfer in 2020.
Its unknown if clubs are actively putting the wheels in motion just yet to snap up Vertonghen next summer, but it has been suggested that the 32-year-old could return to his former club Ajax after seven years away from Amsterdam.
Jan Vertonghen dropped against Aston Villa because of his fitness levels and pre-season. Pochettino wanted to make a statement . More @TimesSport
— Gary Jacob (@garyjacob) August 13, 2019
The same has been suggested for Alderweireld, although as the Belgium international is two years younger than his compatriot, its expected he will enjoy another spell in Europes top five leagues before eventually re-joining Ajax.