Jan Vertonghen has joined Tottenham Hotspur from Ajax for a fee of around £9.5 million having successfully completed his medical. The transfer has been a long time coming this summer due to contractual difficulties between the player and Ajax. The negotiations between the clubs and between the player and Spurs had been completed but there was an outstanding issue where it is thought that Vertonghen who was in the final year of his contract believed that he was due a cut in the transfer fee but Ajax disagreed. It took some time before an arrangement was reached by Vertonghen’s advisers and Ajax. In the meantime Vertonghen had returned to preseason training with the Dutch club but was omitted from the squad for the first friendly match on Saturday. It was last Sunday that the initial announcement was made that the clubs had reached a deal for Vertonghen to join Tottenham, subject to passing a medical examination. Both Tottenham and Arsenal were looking to sign the player but Vertonghen was adamant that he wanted to play for Tottenham.
Vertonghen is 25 years of age and started his footballing education in Belgium. At the age of sixteen he moved to Holland and joined the Ajax Football Academy. Initially, he was a midfield player but he was moved back in to central defence. Being left-footed he had the the versatility to play in any left-sided defensive position as well as move into midfield. After three years, he signed a professional contract with Ajax in 2006 and made his first team debut in a Champions League qualifying match at the start of that season. He made six League and European appearances in the first part of the season and was then sent on loan to RKC Waalwijk. He played twelve matches and scored three goals but was unable to prevent the club from being relegated. The following seasons saw him become a regular in the Ajax team and with the departure of John Heitinga he made the central defensive position his own. He developed well under Martin Jol, growing in stature in central defence with other clubs showing an interest in signing him.
In season 2010-11 he was an important member of the team which won the League and at the start of last season he was appointed captain as Ajax went on to retain their title. Vertonghen made 31 appearances and scored 8 goals. He won the Dutch “Player of the Year ‘ award and a similar award at Ajax.
He has played for Belgium at Under-16 and Under-21 level and has 37 full international caps. He made his full international debut in 2007 and became a regular the following year.
Experienced, Skilful Defender
Jan Vertonghen will bring considerable experience to the Tottenham defence with his appearances for Belgium and also in European competitions, including playing regularly in the Champions League over recent seasons. This experience will be an added bonus for Tottenham who will probably lose the services of their most experienced central defenders, Ledley King and William Gallas, this summer. Last season Tottenham’s central defensive partnership was constantly changing due to injury which is never a satisfactory situation for a team looking to challenge at the top of the League. A goalkeeper, even one of Brad Friedel’s seniority, needs the security of a settled central defensive partnership in front of him so the experience brought by Vertonghen will be beneficial to the whole team, but especially to Younes Kaboul, Michael Dawson and Steven Caulker.
Vertonghen is a footballing central defender who is comfortable on the ball and whose distribution allows him to play long diagonal passes towards the wing to release the wide players which will be of benefit to both Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale. He poses a threat when bringing the ball out of defence, as an extra man to support the midfield and strikers. He also has a powerful left-foot shot which has brought him numerous long range goals for Ajax. With Ledley King, expected to retire, Vertonghen looks to be the ideal replacement. He will bring composure to the Spurs’ defence.
A central defender ‘fit to fill the considerable boots of Ledley King’ puts extra pressure on Tottenham’s new signing but Jan Vertonghen is capable of living up to those high standards and Spurs can only benefit from his presence in the lilywhite shirt.