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Arsenal’s new central defender. You read it here first (unless you speak Dutch).



Will he come by bike?

By Walter Broeckx

We all know how most of the media in the big football countries are talking about transfers. I should have said lying about transfers. Every big name that goes along is rumoured to be sold, or has been sold or will be sold before, during, after the world cup.

Now I must say that I live in a rather small country with hardly any tabloids of the type that exist in the UK. I’m not saying we have the best press in the world, heaven no, but I must say that in the sports section we don’t usually get carried away and we splash around all the big names and the clubs they want to buy them or want to sell them.

So in this case I just would like to give you a thing that has appeared in our newspapers and well we will just see what happens with it. But I must say that it started this way with the Vermaelen transfer in our newspapers.

I think you have already heard about Arsenal having interest in Van Der Wiel from Ajax. The right back from Ajax and the Dutch national team appears to be one of the targets Wenger is going for.

But according to the press in Belgium, Arsenal is also talking to Ajax about Jan Vertonghen. I can imagine you saying: who?

Well that is another young Flemish defender from Ajax and he has almost walked the same path that Vermaelen did. He also played for Germinal Beerschot in the youth teams. Then he went to Ajax who was working together with Germinal Beerschot in those days.

In fact when Vermaelen left Germinal Beerschot in the youth teams, Vertonghen was the one that came to the Germinal Beerschot youth team. And Vertonghen  also went on a loan spell when he was at Ajax first and yes, he also went to RKC Waalwijk and that was the same team Vermaelen went. And after his loan spell he made it in to the first team of Ajax.

  • Vertonghen is also left footed and he is 1,89m, so he is a bit taller than
  • Vermaelen and in English that should be 6ft 2.
  • He is 2 years younger than Vermaelen and they have played together in the Ajax defence.

Last season Vertonghen played most of the season together with a player named Toby Alderweireld.  And guess what……yes he is another young Flemish defender, even younger than Vertonghen. Another 2 years younger in fact. And I don’t know if you are going to believe me but before this boy Alderweireld joined Ajax in 2004 he came over from….yes Germinal Beerschot.

Last season Vertonghen and Alderweireld only conceded 20 goals in the whole season for Ajax  and they had a few runs like 5 and 6 games without conceding a goal. It was the best defensive record in the Dutch league. And they were praised in the Dutch press for this achievement at such a very young age.

Vertonghen also is a player that likes to score a goal every now and then, just like Vermaelen. In fact if you look at the statistics Vermaelen scored 8 goals in 98 games for Ajax and Vertonghen scored 12 goals in 93 games so far for Ajax. So in fact his goal scoring record with Ajax is even better than Vermaelen’s record was.



The only thing that could speak against him is the fact that he also is left footed but in Ajax he has played in central defence, left back and left midfield. He also plays for the Belgian national team. And with the Belgian national team he ended in 4th place in the last Olympic games in China. In those Olympic games he played in midfield for the national team. Since then he has played 22 games for the Belgian national team.

I really wonder if Wenger would go for him and if there is any truth in this. Like I said our press doesn’t do transfer gossip just for the sake of it and to sell more newspapers. In fact it was just a small article hidden somewhere in the sports section.

To finish I like to give some petite histoire about Vertonghen so you might get to know him if he would come over.

When Ajax had won the Dutch cup after beating Feijenoord, their fiercest rivals in Holland, the team was brought on a stage in the Amsterdam Arena and the players were called forward one by one. When the announcer called Verthongen he took the microphone from the announcer and started singing a very popular song that Ajax fans sing when they play Feijenoord. The song goes like this: “They are only cunt cockroaches”.  [Goodness I am glad we don’t have anything as rude as that at the Ems – editor]

Well it got the whole Amsterdam Arena rocking and it was party time and the fans all joined with him but the Dutch FA thought it not so funny and have banned him for the first two games of next season. Vertonghen did apologise a few days later in public and said that he was drunk at the time from the champagne he had been drinking after winning the cup. But you can imagine that he is a very popular boy with the fans.

In his first years in Amsterdam he also studied Sports Marketing, when he was already playing in the first team in 2008. He lived some 15 minutes from the training ground, which is near the Amsterdam Arena. And even in those days he went from his home near the university to the Ajax training ground using his bike. So he was a very unusual type of player if you think of all the other players coming in with their big and expensive cars.

Of course it might not be true, but in Holland he is described as a humble person who strongly believes in himself but very down to earth.

If you want to describe him in 3 words they say: plain, sober and modest (except when singing).

Last year he also finished second in the player of the year award in Holland. Is he the new Vermaelen signing this year? The unknown defender no one heard about?

Well we shall see (said the blind man).

————————————-

Other transfer news

The Great Cesc Fàbregas Transfer Saga: what’s really going on

All the transfers this summer, including our new Argentine goalkeeper

The Squad: The 25 registered players, the home grown, and the under 21s

Reserves: Last season’s loans – who will make it?

Youth: Arsenal become the first team ever to retain the Academy title

The Golden 30: Untold’s readers vote on the best of the 2009/10 youth squad

Why our summers are always so miserable (and why we won’t be bullied any more)

Next season’s squad: who we’ve got who could we sign (the complete overview of all possibilities)

31 comments to Arsenal’s new central defender. You read it here first (unless you speak Dutch).

  • Gf60

    He can sing that at the spuds games!

  • Yeah, I’m happy to learn that song, imagine two TV5 clones at the heart of our defence 🙂

  • dutchgunner

    Ajax is my home team and I gotta say he would be a great signing for Arsenal, I’ve watched him play alot of games, and since he already has experience playing along side vermaelen it would make striking up their old partnership very easy and familiar to come into a new team. I still want to see Arsenal sign van der Wiel though, I think he will be better than dani alves or maicon in a few years.

  • bc

    Hardly first! You obviously dont read your blogs. This wall over the web last week.

    I have heard from an Ajax season ticket holder, that these 2 have NOT played together as a Centre Half pairing. When they have played in the same team Vermaelen has switched to left back or Vertonghen has played DM.

  • bc

    meant to add, either way like his versatality and could be good cover for both TV5 and Song.

  • Lanz

    Hmmm! Something tells me that if we do not sign @ least one English player this window, we will remain in the bad books of some Premiership referees!

  • Bart

    Hi Walter, Dutchman here, living 14 years in the UK now. You really want to be a bit careful with translating k.t in English; while k.t has lost most of its rudeness in Dutch, the C word is still very offensive in the UK. Went to see Ajax quite a few times when still living in Holland, can’t remember ever having heard that song though.

    Suddenly there are quite a few talented Belgian players, where do they come from? The KVBV got their act together?

  • Phil23

    I called this ages ago ask Desi Gunner!! He is basically the only left footed defender who is just as capable at Defensive midfield. He is more valuable to us as a defensive mid because he adds height when Diaby isn’t in the midfield as well as brings balance to the midfield by being left footed. He also has a great long shot and is skillful on the ball. He is obviously good cover for Vermaelen too! Him, Der Wiel, Koscielny and a keeper will see us laughing all the way to the title.

  • walter

    Bart, we should have put a warning sign on top that this article could contain rude words. 😉
    Yes the k.t word in Dutch has almost become a normal word when we speak and we don’t realise the impact it has in English.

    I have heard that the last years some of the Ajax fans use this song when they play Feijenoord. I really cannot imagine Vertonghen inventing the song himself. 🙂

    As BC said also in the Belgian national team they switch mostly Vermaelen to left back. But there is a lot of disagreement on this but both Vermaelen and Vertonghen can play on the flank and Vertonghen also played a number of games in midfield so both can be versatile.

  • walter

    Bart about you asking the KBVB having their act together… I think not.
    As I said before Belgium is a country that has always based their perfomances on a very solid defence. We always had good defenders, mostly because all the teams play very defensive.
    So I think that Ajax made a very clever move and started looking for young defenders in a country that was capable of delivering good defenders.

    And I really think that we have to thank Ajax for the fact that they have developed them not only to good defenders (their natural thing) but also developed them in to excellent footballers. If they would have stayed in Belgium they would have been good defenders but not good footballers.

    Flemish defensive force and Dutch footballing skills: the best of our both worlds put together.

    A personal thing (thought): put the young Flemish defenders behind the Dutch midfield and attack and maybe you have a real top class team.

  • AaronGSi

    Both Vertonghen and Van der Wiel would be good additions and there could be truth to both being discussed by Arsenal. I have a feeling that we definitely will need a right back soon. Eboue only has 1 year left on his contract (yet there seems to be no offer of new one – I could be wrong though), and Sagna is getting linked with Inter as well as Juve now, so Van der Wiel would be a great signing. He’s still young but already looks very accomplished, and is a far better attcking threat than Sagna from what I’ve seen. (he can cross a ball consistently for starters)
    The good thing with these players is that they have come through the Ajax system, so know all about 4-3-3 formations and fast attacking play, so its no surprise AW will look in their direction. Maybe Martin Jol will also want to do us a favour, as revenge for the way the Spuds cheated him. Even though they have the twitcher in charge now, the Spuds team is still 99% the one that Jol put together, so maybe by giving us his best players at Ajax it is his way of sticking his fingers up to them as it will be another 10 years before they beat us again.

  • Richard B

    I am firmly of the view that Wenger would like to have as many as three players who can play both at centre back and as defensive midfield. Song can obviously do it and I’m not sure that Djourou hasn’t been tried there. Vermaelen certainly looks like he could play a bit further up the pitch and another player (especially another left-footer) who has proved that he can operate in both roles would be excellent. Add to those three two others who are more specialist (CB or DM) and you have a good group to cover most eventualities. In games where the aerial threat is not so great (i.e. not at Stoke) Sagna can also shift across the back four giving another chance for Eboue to came in at right back.

  • Bart

    Walter, I always thought 1830 was a bit silly, lets do a Germany, reunite and win the world cup.

  • Aaditya

    On the Belgian football,

    Steven Defour, Kevin de Bruyne, Kevin Mirallas and Mats Rits are all great upcoming attacking players, below the age of 23. (Mirallas may be 23 right now, not sure about that one) Maybe the KBVB has started to gets its act together?

  • Gooner80

    I Would still like to see SONG and TV5 swap positions, for one I think he will score more goals I think he would provide better cover for the defense and it wouldn’t be the first time Aw changed someones position, I think song is ready for the back now

  • walter

    Bart, I agree with you.

    Aaditya, most of the new and upcoming young Belgian players had the main part of their education in Holland or in France.
    Dufour, De Bruyne and Rits are formed in Belgium but to be honest I rate them not so high as the others.

  • JImmie

    Just Curious, Although Ajax usually sell their top player, but would they sell 2 defender at 1 time, right after ther sold TV last year? They also in CL right, and that mean they still need few top player fo rthat campaing.

  • Davi

    Gooner80 – Song isnt as adept at DM, and TV bombs forward all the time anyway! One of song’s major roles is to cover his position when he attacks. Ironically I think TV would have LESS freedom to attack playing in Song’s position.

  • Gooner80

    @Davi

    I dont know, you might be right but the guy is so good I could see him mopping up everything @ DM

  • Tel

    If Vertonghen is left footed then I don’t think he’ll be signing cos Wenger doesn’t like playing two left footed CBs (or right footed). Unless of course Vertonghen is just as strong with his right foot??

  • Two points on which I must take full responsibility.

    First, the headline was totally mine, and not Walter’s. I meant it as an ironic statement, and I am sorry if it was taken seriously. Walter’s original headline was the bike line that is at the top of the piece.

    Second, it is my job as editor to decide if a swear word should be included or not, and Walter should not have any blame attached for that. His first language is Flemish, not English.

    If the inclusion of a particular word starting with the third letter of the alphabet caused offence, my apologies. That was not my intention.

  • WalterBroeckx

    And I will try to keep this in mind as the Dutch word which means the same is, like Bart said, more or less accepted in every day language and has lost most of its offending meaning. In Dutch and Flemish speaking countries anyway.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Tel, Vertonghen can also play at left back, and even left midfield and I think he was a very major part in the Belgium team in the Olympics where he was very strong in midfield.

  • Indeed, Phil has been talking about this player for a long time.

    Walter is there any comment on how far the discussions have progressed? I’ve a bad feeling for this one i.e we might be priced out as Ajax try to keep him for the Champions League campaign and they also know that we definitely need to buy.

    Also, is this recent news? I ask because these rumors did surface a while ago then seemed to die down. So if it’s in the Belgian press now then we might have taken things forward. Just speculating.

  • Phil23

    I agree with Desi that we may very well be priced out of this offer. The very fact that the offer hasn’t been kept behind closed doors makes it less likely for me. Although Arsenal have gone about signings in a very different manner this window, don’t you think? I’ve heard it may be Gazidis trying to reassure the fans that we are in the market. If we are indeed in for both Vertonghen and Van der Wiel its going to cost us a decent amount of cash but both these players are quite unique and because of this I of this I think if we get them both for £18m to £20m we have done some decent business without destroying our relationship with Ajax. Van der Wiel could even be loaned back to Ajax for a year if Ajax really didn’t want to lose two of their defenders at once.

  • Phil23

    @Gooner80

    It is funny that you mention swapping Vermaelen into the defensive midfield position because I had this idea myself sometime ago. Desi brought me to my senses by reminding me how invaluable he is to the defense so I went scouting for a couple of weeks to find a player that was very similar to Vermaelen that could play in defensive midfield. The attributes I was looking for were left footed, could play in defense and defensive midfield, was a good header of the ball, had a strong long shot as our midfield has really been missing such a player, the player had to be reasonably talented as theres no point in finding the player with the right attributes who couldn’t even handle Championship football. I had several other priorities as well but i quickly found that I couldn’t be so picky as just the first two areas narrowed the search down to about 5 players! Anyway, to cut a long story medium (haha) Vertonghen is the answer. I found this out way before he was rumoured to come to Arsenal and it humoured me that Vertonghen was under our noses the whole time. Infact, I remember when I was trying to find out about Vermaelen when we first signed him, that many of the Ajax fans thought it was very funny as they strongly believed Vertonghen was a much better player. I’m not saying this is true at all but there is every chance he will succeed at Arsenal. NOT as a centre back to partner Vermaelen. He will be very good cover for Vermaelen as well as a second defensive midfield option plus cover for Song. He would probably end up with large amounts of game time but wouldn’t be put under instant pressure. I strongly believe that Laurent Koscielny will be our starting centre right back. Incase you were wondering, the Lorient supporters think he will be called up to the French National team in a year or two. Thats how highly they rate him. This is a brief translation of a supporter who has watched him since his days at Tours in Ligue 2.

    Quick summary of the first:

    1 – He’s calm, that gives him an advantage
    2 – Not sure – think it means good balance or something???
    3 – Good one-on-one (i.e. good tackler)
    4 – Good with his head
    5 – Good attitude – won’t cause trouble
    6 – Thinks he’ll work well with Vermaelen

    Weakness – he’s physically weak, but that thinks he should get better with age.

  • Gooneraside

    Good article (again), Walter.

    Vertonghen sounds like good singing and good signing;-).

    I think that all believers in good english must sigh, and all gods in all their heavens must laugh, when we use as a derisory term that part of the female anatomy that most of us love and cherish greatly.

    Only trouble is that some people/clubs can only be described as cunts.

  • walter

    Desi, the news was reported in Belgian newspaper on wednesday this week. So maybe a link from the player?

    Vertonghen plays at CB in the Belgiuam national team and it is Vermaelen who plays left back.

  • Clerkenwell Gooner

    Reports in various places (Mirror etc.) that Chelski are going after Réal’s Sergio Ramos! Who has yet to sign a contract extension!

    AW, what are you waiting for? Get in there, steal him away from Ambramovich, and play him next to TV.

  • gunnerfan

    Given that Arsenal have almost wrapped up the signing of Koscielny, what are the chances of Vertonghen now? I really think he is ideal for Arsenal as cover for both DM and centre back. Arsenal need a player like him who can play multiple positions in defense like Song. Awesome left foot,great header of the ball and not a midget 🙂