You could sum up the feelings of Tottenham Hotspur supporters regarding Sunday's announcement with just one phrase: It's about time.
Spurs announced via the team's official website on Sunday morning ET that they have come to terms on the transfer of Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen. Completion of the deal is subject to a medical. A story posted on BBC Sport claims that Ajax were looking to receive £12m for Vertonghen, while an ESPN article states that Tottenham will pay £9m for the 25-year old defender. The heavy rumor that had been swirling around since late June was that Spurs would be forced to pay £9.5m to complete the transfer.
Vertonghen had repeatedly told reporters about his desire to join Tottenham since before the end of the 2011-12 Premier League season. He voiced joy and relief about making the dream move while talking with Sky Sports News on Sunday. "I'm 25 years old and I feel ready to play in the Premier League," Vertonghen said. "I've heard a lot of good stories from my Belgium teammates, so I think I'm ready for the club. (Spurs) have a lot of good players and I hope the most important players will stay, but that's my opinion. I'm not one of the directors. I hope the players will stay and we have a good team next season."
It seems safe to say that the "important players" referenced by Vertonghen would be Luka Modric and Rafael Van der Vaart. Modric, looking to play Champions League football, has been linked with a move to Real Madrid, a transfer that could be completed as soon as this week. Van der Vaart, who publicly defended manager Harry Redknapp before Redknapp was sacked by the club, is rumored to be interested in playing in Germany in order to spend more time with his wife.
Vertonghen, a versatile defender who can feature at center back, left back or even in the midfield, was named Eredivisie Player of the Year and also Ajax's Player of the Year. The Belgium international was reportedly targeted by numerous clubs this past spring, including Arsenal and even Barcelona. It was always Spurs for Vertonghen, though, even after Redknapp was relieved of his duties. "I heard that Harry Redknapp really wanted me to play for Tottenham, but now it's Andre Villas-Boas," Vertonghen told Sky Sports. "To me, that doesn't matter. I just want to play for the club and I hope I can please the fans at the club."
Vertonghen, who is expected to begin training with Tottenham as soon as Monday, will be inserted into the team's starting eleven this fall. He provides an immediate boost for a back line that, quite frankly, needs the help. Spurs legend Ledley King may be ready (or forced) to call it a career, Ryan Nelsen made a move to QPR last month, and the futures of both William Gallas and Michael Dawson remain up in the air. Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who voiced his commitment to Spurs before Survival Sunday, may also make a summer exit from White Hart Lane.
The Vertonghen deal could, depending on the club's ability to sign a quality striker, be the move of the summer for Spurs. Losing out on such a talented player who made it clear that he wanted to play at Tottenham could have been a devastating blow for a Spurs team looking to put the disappointing final third of the 2011-12 campaign out of memory. Vertonghen and the recently acquired Gylfi Sigurdsson are instead signs that the AVB era is off to quite the positive start.