There is really no other way to put it. For Tottenham Hotspur, the current offseason begins with Ajax skipper Jan Vertonghen. There have been numerous reports over the past couple of weeks regarding the central defender making a move to north London during the summer. Spurs had better hurry in completing the deal, though, or else they could be seeing Vertonghen in a different red shirt next fall.
The main obstacle that has prevented Vertonghen from leaving Ajax for Tottenham is, of course, money. Vertonghen, who has been linked with Spurs since last holiday season, has made it clear in numerous interviews that he wants to join Tottenham. He was even in attendance at White Hart Lane on May 13 when Spurs defeated Fulham on Survival Sunday. Tottenham missing out on Champions League doesn't seem to bother Vertonghen, but it has created a hiccup in negotiations between Tottenham and Ajax.
Here is where things get a little tricky. Depending on the last report you've read/heard regarding the matter, Ajax want somewhere around £9-12m for Vertonghen. Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is, as one would expect, looking to complete the transfer while spending as little as possible. Sources such as Goal.com and Mirror Football have hinted that the two sides are close on completing a deal that would cost Spurs somewhere between £9m and £10m. If that is indeed the case, however, one can't help but wonder why the matter isn't already settled.
It seems that signing Vertonghen is no longer a "patience is a virtue" matter for Spurs. Recent reports from sources such as the Daily Mail claim that Vertonghen wants to find his new home as soon as possible, so much so that he would join Arsenal if the Gunners were able to close out negotiations with Ajax ahead of Tottenham. Spurs supporters worried that the highly desired defender is playing both sides should take note that the same Daily Mail story quoted Vertonghen as having said the following:
"I've said repeatedly that Tottenham are my first choice...They have shown me around, I have met all their key people and their chairman came to meet me on Monday. But Arsenal want me too. They remain a possibility if my Spurs move falls through, as Ajax are asking £12m for me."
I fully understand Levy wanting to save a few bucks, especially when acquiring a player with one year left on his current deal, a player who has also publicly stated that he wants to join Spurs. There comes a time, however, when one must realize that spending that extra £1m is a solid and necessary investment. It's always wise to keep a top class player such as Vertonghen from joining your hated rivals, but this is about more than Spurs vs. Arsenal. Signing the defender would both fill a gap for Spurs and also send a message to certain players that Tottenham are serious about being a side that's consistently playing Champions League football.
There's one word you can use to describe the current Tottenham back line: Unreliable. There's no question that William Gallas, Michael Dawson and Ledley King can all handle their business when out on the pitch. You just can't count on any of them remaining healthy. The truth is King is always one wrong step away from suffering a career ending injury. Vertonghen would immediately ease worries regarding the team's defense, and signing him would also give Levy and manager Harry Redknapp options when it comes to selling certain players.
Completing this deal could also be a step toward keeping Tottenham's core in place for at least one more season. Regardless of Vertonghen's future home, it appears that Luka Modric already has one foot out the door. Levy and Redknapp must now ensure that players such as Rafael Van der Vaart and Gareth Bale remain happy at Spurs through the summer. Signing Vertonghen tells all within the club that Spurs are only interested in going forward despite losing out on Champions League this time around.
When you look at all aspects, Tottenham acquiring Vertonghen as soon as possible is a no-brainer.