By David Hytner
Jan Vertonghen is ready to move from Ajax to Tottenham Hotspur having been impressed by the London club’s personal touch and how they have made him feel central to their plans.
Daniel Levy, the Tottenham chairman, flew to Amsterdam on Monday for negotiations with the Ajax financial director, Jerome Slop, and the club’s commercial director, Henri van der Aat. Spurs have offered €12m (around £9.6m) for Vertonghen, a central defender who has 12 months to run on his contract but Ajax value him at €15m. Levy, though, having wasted little time in moving for the 25-year-old, is confident of finalising an agreement and the player is attracted by the challenge at Tottenham and living in London.
“I have a preference for Spurs,” Vertonghen said. “I’ve got the best feeling for that club and I’m a ‘feeling person’. They already invited me and want to handle it quickly. They say I’m their only option, which I take as a compliment.”
Rafael van der Vaart, Tottenham’s Dutch midfielder who began his career at Ajax, has urged the club to sign Vertonghen and they appear poised to win the fight ahead of a clutch of rivals, including Arsenal. Vertonghen, a Belgium international, is rated among the best players in Holland’s Eredivisie having overcome a slow start to enjoy an excellent season. His performances in the Europa League against Manchester United drew praise.
The captain of Ajax who plays on the left of the central-defensive pair, Vertonghen is a composed all-round defender with particular strength with the ball at his feet, a legacy of his upbringing as a midfielder. It was Martin Jol, the former Spurs manager, now at Fulham, who switched him to centre-half at Ajax.
Tottenham’s options in central defence will be swelled by the return of Steven Caulker from a successful season-long loan at Swansea City. The 20-year-old will be assessed by the manager, Harry Redknapp, in pre-season. Redknapp also has Michael Dawson, Younes Kaboul and Ryan Nelsen for the position, plus Ledley King and William Gallas. King’s contract expires at the end of next month and negotiations over fresh terms are planned. Gallas has one year remaining on his deal.
Levy is endeavouring to reach an agreement for the transfer of Emmanuel Adebayor from Manchester City. The striker, who spent last season on loan at Tottenham, where he scored 18 goals, has one year of contract remaining at City, which is worth £170,000 a week. They contributed £100,000 of his weekly wage last season.
Adebayor is not wanted at City but he is not inclined to take a pay-cut, making the sums difficult to balance for Levy, who operates a strict £70,000-a-week wage ceiling. Much will hinge on City’s valuation of a player they paid £25m to take from Arsenal in July 2009 or whether they might be prepared to reach a settlement with him over the final year of his contract.