In focus: Jan Vertonghen

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Jan Vertonghen is the latest European footballer to be linked with a number of Premier League clubs – but is he any good?

This week the Ajax captain was named Eredivisie Player of the Year and hinted of his future in an interview with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

“Tottenham is a fantastic traditional club who play football in a way I like,” he said.

“Ajax was the perfect club for me, but Spurs will be very close in nearing that already. They buy young, eager and offensive-minded players”

These comments have not stopped rumours from circulating that he could also join Tottenham Hotspur’s rivals Arsenal, or move further north to Old Trafford and Manchester United.

There would appear to be great demand for the 25-year-old and GMF has run the rule over him to bring the verdict on whether he will be a success in the Premier League.

A question that will always be asked of players coming in from outside of the Premier League is whether they will be able to handle the pace of the English game.

The Belgium international is not an exceptionally quick defender, but he is fast enough not to get left in the wake of speedy attacker.

His positional sense is good and he reads the game effectively, which means he does not seem to get isolated enough for his lack of exceptional pace to be exploited in any way.

This is even more important considering he is often playing at left-back, as well as centre-back, for both club and country – another example of his positional flexibility.

The habit of some Premier League teams to take a more direct approach will provide his aerial prowess with a stern test, but he is likely to pass.

Much like his Belgian international team-mate Thomas Vermaelen, Vertonghen has a good leap and attacks the ball well. He is actually a couple of inches taller than the Arsenal defender and so is more able to dominate opponents in the air.

Vertonghen is an imposing figure with great strength, so physically demanding trips to Stoke City should not be something he is unable to deal with and he takes an aggressive attitude to making, so may even relish the task of facing more heavy-handed opposition.

The aforementioned flexibility when it comes to positioning also helps to enhance his technical ability and the way he can affect himself on a match.

He is as comfortable playing in a defensive midfield role as he is moving from the centre of defence to out wide and he is good enough on the ball to retain possession effectively.

Blessed with a good passing range, Vertonghen can often start attacks quickly form defence, but is good technical level can often be his downfall.

As with all defenders who are comfortable on the ball, it can sometimes look dangerous when they hold onto possession in close proximity to their own goal.

When it is given over effectively the player can look a class apart and entirely unruffled, though it does not always end up like this.

Vertonghen can occasionally get caught on the ball in risky areas and is prone to indecision at times, but the timing of his challenges is good and mean he can recover effectively.

The names being linked with him mean he is obviously a talented player and all of these teams will be strengthened if any of them are to acquire him.

The pace of the Premier League could pose an initial problem for his more laid back style while in possession, but this should last if he is not isolated too often.

With only one year left on his contract, Ajax do not have much option other than to sell him if they want to avoid losing him for nothing next summer or receiving a paltry sum in January.

A quality player available for a reasonable price make Jan Vertonghen a great value signing.

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Tottenham Hotspur
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