Jan Vertonghen isn’t a centre-back or a full-back, he’s just a footballer – and an exceptional one at that.
The Belgian will get lost on any ‘best signing of the season’ lists, because he isn’t as explosive and his contribution isn’t necessarily as tangible as the Eden Hazards and Robin van Persies of this world – but he does belong on them.
Consider the amount of money Tottenham spent on bringing him across the North Sea, and then compare it with the other recent outlays from Premier League clubs in that position – the £23m Chelsea spent on David Luiz, the £18m Arsenal parted with for Per Mertesacker? The – reported – £12m that Daniel Levy haggled Ajax down to looks like exceptional business.
Vertonghen may be more comfortable in the centre of defence, but it’s a measure of his footballing ability that he looks so at home out wide. There are plenty of full-backs in the country who go forward enthusiastically, but very few who do so with that much success – the Belgian’s different, he doesn’t roam the advanced parts of the pitch at the expense of his defensive duties and when he gets in pertinent attacking positions he makes a contribution which is actually valuable. He’s a good defender, he’s a brilliant athlete, he has the technique of a midfielder, and he has more spacial and positional awareness than probably 95% of his peer group in England.
What a steal for Tottenham – this guy has the potential to be a colossus in England, and as and when Younes Kaboul recovers from surgery, Vertonghen will be part of one of the best defensive partnerships in the league. If Spurs can keep those two together through their prime, they’re 25 and 26 respectively, then that’s a rock upon which an awful lot can be built.
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