Cruyff favourite Vertonghen should be Newcastle United’s top defensive target.

Posted on January 27th, 2012 | 34 Comments |

Jan Vertonghen.
Vertonghen: Top notch but will be £10 million+.
Of all the defensive targets (allegedly) pursued by Newcastle United, Ajax’s 24 year old Belgian defender and captain, Jan Vertonghen, is by far the most interesting proposition.

At a potential cost that will almost certainly be over £10 million, along with the abilty to command a Coloccini sized salary package he should be really. However, despite another thing being almost certain, that he will also be pursued by other clubs (most with more “clout” than Newcastle United too), he’s still the one that Alan Pardew should really push the boat out for. After taking my advice from last year telling him to stop messing around with forwards such as Modibo Maiga and buy Papiss Cisse instead, and also to stop being silly and put Hatem Ben Arfa back on the flank, hopefully the Silver Supremo will heed my sage advice once more!

Cultured, powerful, versatile, attacking…

Jan Vertonghen first came on to my radar quite some time ago when Johan Cruyff named him as his favourite Ajax player in the current squad. When the greatest Dutch master of them all says something like that I tend to listen, and look. After watching a few Ajax games I could see why.

A remarkably versatile left footer, he has the abilty to play left back, centre back and defensive midfield. He is also highly cultured for a defender in both senses of the word – He actually has a very canny library at home and I’m sure you can’t say that about many footballers! But I digress.

Getting back to the football sense of the word, he is remarkably “cultured” technically for a defender. Primarily a left footer, he’s remarkably good on the ball with excellent passing abilty, excellent positional sense and tackling, a great capacity to read the game and is good in the air. He also has set piece abilty with the odd goal too. He’s scored 26 goals in his 221 game club career with Ajax (including a 20 game loan spell with Waalwijk), as well as 2 goals in his 35 caps with the Belgian national side. As well as being cultured he is also as strong as you would expect a centre back to be and at around 6’3″, the Belgian Beckenbauer is indeed a fair sized unit. Another Dutch legend and his current manager at Ajax, Frank de Boer, said of Vertonghen:

“He is perhaps the best player in the league (Dutch Eredivisie) at the moment. With his power, passing, positional sense, pace and ability to score goals, there’s no one better.”


Looking hard for a more negative side, for better or worse, he is very attacking for someone who plays primarily as a centre back and can spend quite alot of time up the pitch scoring goals and such. I have also heard from one or two sources that he can be prone to occaisional lapses in concentration. Watching him a few times, I certainly didn’t see a Titus Bramble but some people who have seen far more of him than I have may know more.

Current situation?

On his current situation, Vertonghen himself has expressed exasperation in the past at seemingly constant questions about whether he will be moving to another club, however more recently he has said on his situation at Ajax, where his current contract expires in the summer of 2013:

“There is talk of a contract extension, but not much has been said.”

“Perhaps Ajax will find it to be a good thing when I leave, I don’t know.

“But I think that in the future I could have a very good transfer.”

At around the same time (a few days ago) his manager, the above mentioned Frank de Boer told the Dutch “Eredivisie Live” of a potential move for the player:

“We know that his contract expires in 2013. So it’s either renew or relocate to a good foreign club, where Ajax would also benefit from a transfer fee.”

“We already told Jan last year in Turkey that we are keen to hold on to him. We will open talks early in March to discuss a new deal.”


Hmm, not much there then except from De Boer’s quotes above, it seems that if or when they do sell, it will almost certainly be in the Summer rather than in the next few days. If / when they do sell, if Newcastle United are willing to throw their hat into the ring, they will face stiff competition from some bigger teams with bigger budgets and European competition to offer so Derek Llambias’ usual crude “bullyboy” tactics and attempts to unsettle the player will not work. Although several top clubs have reportedly expressed an interest in the player the favourites would seem to be Arsenal, and Vertonghen himself has spoken of a potential move to the Gunners as far back as July 2010. Speaking on the possibilty of rejoining with his ex Ajax and also his Belgian international teammate, Thomas “Verminator” Vermaelen, a player with whom Vertonghen shares some characteristics, the defender said:

“I heard they made an enquiry along with a few other clubs. I read something in the newspapers.

“I have always said to myself I want one more year at Ajax, hopefully become a champion and then move.

“I am ambitious. I want to play in the Premier League. The Premier League is my favourite competition but I need one more year before I am ready. I always said I don’t want to move this year so the clubs never came to me.

“They always went to Ajax and the club always said they didn’t want to sell me so I will stay for another year.”

On the possibilty of joining his friend the Verminator he continued:

“We have never played together in central defence, perhaps because we are both left-footed, either for Ajax or the national team.

“When he was at Ajax we were always playing together in the team but sometimes I played left-back and he played centre-back and sometimes the other way around.

“I lost a friend when he went to Arsenal but for my career it was good. We get on really well. I speak to him sometimes a few times a week.

“I see him with the national team and he sometimes comes back to Amsterdam for a few days when he is free and we hang out together.

“He is one of my best friends and I’m very happy he has been such a success at Arsenal. He tells me really good things about Arsenal and living in London.”

Of course though, this does not mean that if he does make a move it will be to Arsenal, and now, along with the north London club, Newcastle are seen by some as the joint front runners for his signature. Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported at the end of last year that Newcastle United had been in touch about the player, a story which was repeated in several organs of the UK media. However it should be remebered that absolute piffle in the media isn’t solely a UK phenomenon so we’ll see.

From everything I’ve seen of him though, he’s one hell of a defender and Newcastle United should get in there, despite the competition.

Jan Vertonghen video action.

Top ten Vertonghen goals for Ajax – not bad for a defender!

Jan Vertonghen: The good, the bad and the ugly.

Scoring goals again, and occaisionally trotting back to do the odd bit of defending.

Jan Vertonghen – Ajax talent of the year. Once again, apologies for the soundtrack!

Best of Jan Vertonghen.

Jan Vertonghen – The Leader.

Third Star Heroes: Jan Vertonghen.

Of course, this goal was a pass back to the opposition’s (SC Cambuur) goalkeeper while the Ajax gadgie was hurt, but I thought I’d throw it in anyway! As you can see, Ajax very sportingly let Cambuur have one back.

Oops! I forgot to put this one in when I first published this piece. This is Vertonghen in an Ajax vs AZ Alkmaar game.

NUFCBlog Author: workyticket workyticket has written 1091 articles on this blog.

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34 Responses

  1. 10 mill… howay man… there’s nee way ashley would cough up up to 20 mill in one transfer window on 2 players.

    he’s class though.

  2. Should be but hardly. Does Ashley will spend another 10 mill for player? Even in the summer I don’t think so that this will happend. We will buy some mediocre player for CB.

  3. he looks good, but with the benefit of rose tinted specs – not as good as the Prince… Phillipe Albert

  4. by the way worky – this article must have taken days in the planning!- do you do any work that actually pays you cash money – or are you a shy millionaire and its beneath you?

  5. Worky, All credit to you for trying to influence MA and the Universe, I feel however that you are p!ssing to windward in this instance!

    Haven’t watched as much of the African Cup as I would have liked but from the glimpses I’ve had there are some good players waiting to get onto the Euro scene, couldn’t put a name to any though.

  6. Coloccini-sized pay package? We won’t be getting him then. To be fair-Colo really was grossly overpaid for a guy who wasn’t coming from one of Spain’s big two and had never played in England. Let’s offer him 35K/week and see what happens.

    I’d love to get him, though. He’d be perfect, would allow us to play Colo on his preferred right side of central defense. Something tells me if he comes it would be as Colo’s replacement, though.

  7. Vertonghen is obviously a top class player – which is why Arsenal, Spurs & Manu are linked with him as well –
    so who would offer the lowest wages and come 4th?
    yup, NUFC – but they could say they tried! and some would believe them!

  8. Junior Hoilett is a more realistic target – £5m should get him.

    btw – checking out Daily Telegraph fantasy football stats & see that Liverpool’s most successful player (for points) is someone call Enrique – worth a cheeky bid?

  9. and it’s being reported we have just made a “final” offer of £3m for Adrian Mariappa

  10. to be honest is this injury to colo starting to look a little suspicious? has he played his last game for us? are Newcastle keeping him free for a medical somewhere?

    this vert-longen would fit in for price and pay structure if we were to offload collo about now, that means they would be preparing a replacement about now if collo was going to be bundled out the door about now.

    i doubt the board would let us know if they were going to sell collo but the suggestions they are after a replacement might make some quarters think collo is on his way out.

  11. I think a Vertonghen swap for Collo would be good business – lets cash in now before its too late

  12. mind you, I havn’t seen any hint anywhere that anyone is after Coloccini, his age & wages would not attract a good offer – if he’s waiting for a bosman he will be 30+ and lucky to get a top club.

  13. @10

    I hear you on that, Super. But the way the HBA & Cisse signings went, I get the impression we only ever bid for such players once it becomes clear that rumored big club interest will never materialize. Spurs were supposedly after Cisse but it turns out in reality the only other seriously interested club was Sun’lun and a bid of 7.5M won out.

    SAF has rattled on about not buying in this window and I can’t see Spurs buying a defender. Chelsea, maybe as they’ve lost Alex but then they’ve done without him for the first half of the season so howay-it’s hardly for sure.

  14. i heard Swansea had offered £4 million for Mariappa.

    so maybe we just didn’t reach the highest bid.

  15. Grumpy Old-Toon says:
    January 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    “Worky, All credit to you for trying to influence MA and the Universe, I feel however that you are p!ssing to windward in this instance!”

    TBH I may have been “pissing windward” with Cisse as I thought that we’d have to pay over £10 million Grumpy. We were just about the only site to get it right BTW. Most of ’em said £10 million not £7.5 up to £9 million and a bit. Freiburg are probably getting relegated though.

  16. Stephen C – agreed mate, I suggested Bassong a couple of days ago but got no comments so I’ll repost what I said =
    I’d look again at Bassong – he’s now 26 and his only way out of spurs looks like QPR.

    We sold him in 2009 for what I understood was for an initial fee of £8m which would rise to £12m on performance- related conditions.
    Did we ever get the extra £4m?
    Are we due a cut if he goes to QPR?
    Would we get a discount if he returned?

    anyone know?

  17. Worky, I’d love to see you succeeding in your endevours and would happily concede you have the Hogwarts touch if it came off! :)

    I see that Flash Harry is being accused of trying to avoid £30thou in taxes. My astonishment in this case is not with Harry, best of luck, if indeed he was, but with HMRC. They hound the smaller fish and (after a cosy tea) let the bigger ones swim away untouched.

    Funny it comes up one the day the chairman of RBS is getting yet another whopping bonus. Incidently I have signed the petition suggesting he declines it but added if he don’t, he perhaps donates it to Crisis or some similar charity for people who really need it.

    Political rant over.

  18. tattyheed says:
    January 27, 2012 at 10:22 am

    “by the way worky – this article must have taken days in the planning!- do you do any work that actually pays you cash money”

    I do manage to squeeze a bit of work in between the blogging every now and again tattyheed :-)

    As I wrote in the piece, I’ve been following Vertonghen since Cruyff mentioned him as he is my greatest Guru in all things football. I could do ten blogs a day just cut and pasted from other news stories but I prefer to investigate things for myself which takes alot more time. Ashley and Llambias’ shennanigans over the stadium rename took the longest recently I think, I even spoke to someone who works in marketing over that one.

  19. Grumpy Old-Toon says:
    January 27, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    “Worky, I’d love to see you succeeding in your endevours and would happily concede you have the Hogwarts touch if it came off!”

    I think there’ll be too much competition with this one Grumpy. It was even mooted that Cruyff had recommended him to Barcelona and Man City could well be after him too. Barcelona have a new President though, and one of his first actions was to strip Cruyff of his lifetime presidency and he also sold a player who Guardiola wanted to keep.

  20. supermac

    £8million rising to £12 on performances.

    What performances? he hasn’t had any. i think we can safely say we can forget the extra £4 million.

    if there is a sell on fee i think it will be based on the £8 million or avoided completely to increase the sale price like we did with millner.

    not sure if this is a gamble or not, good idea or bad.

    when bassong played up here he was booed quite frequently. he even made an apearance. i sometimes question players loyalty when players leave for other clubs only to get a game against us, only to pass directly to us or far from their own players, bassong, Baye, Chopra and Barton being the more recent.

    sometimes passes are too obvious to be anything other than love for the old club.

    professionalism only last as long until it interferes with socialism.

    the individual will always over rule any professionalism their is. and selfishness to an extent will always rule the day.

  21. Supermac says:
    January 27, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    “We sold him in 2009 for what I understood was for an initial fee of £8m which would rise to £12m on performance- related conditions.
    Did we ever get the extra £4m?
    Are we due a cut if he goes to QPR?
    Would we get a discount if he returned?

    anyone know?”

    I know that ir was rumoured that Bassong went for £8 million rising to £12 million if ‘Spurs made the Champion’s League (which they did), but I never saw any substantiation of that at all Supermac.

  22. Stephen C says:
    January 27, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    “Worky are you going to brighton tomorrow?”

    I really need to do something about that soon Stephen. A while back I would have been there like a shot. However recently I’ve ended up being stuck at home deein’ the match banters, sticking up highlights adding the finishing touches to other peoples reports and so on…

    I’ll really have to start getting back to the games soon because that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. Being in London it tends to be more away matches I go to as well, like the London ones and games like this cup one at Brighton.

  23. well how long would it take you to get to Brighton from London? ten minutes?

    you should get yourself down there, i might have spare ticket for you if you did.

  24. The extra millions for Bassong, as I recall, was based on his making 30 appearances in his first season with them, which he did. I’m pretty sure we got that money.

    I also recall hearing at the time-and none of this is officially disclosed-that we did include a sell-on clause.

    Either way, we need a center half for the rest of this season. Even it’s a loan, we need somebody who can go right into the first team.

  25. tunyc (& others) thanks for that – I think Bassong would do a job for us.
    last thought – how about Mat Upson who hasn’t settled at stoke? wouldn’t break the bank for a solid squad player.

  26. Stephen C says:
    January 27, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    “well how long would it take you to get to Brighton from London? ten minutes?

    you should get yourself down there, i might have spare ticket for you if you did.”

    Thanks for the offer Stephen!

    Alas, I’ll be holding the fort. Aye, it’s ten minutes if I got a lift in a Eurofighter Mirage Stephen! Brighton’s 50odd – 60 miles away and well over an hour away most times from North London. Hugh’s away in India at the moment as well.