Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Arsenal Transfer Prospects: Analyzing the Pros and Cons of Signing Jan Vertonghen

Arsenal have officially confirmed the transfer of Carl Jenkinson from Charlton and the youngster has been signed very much for the future. However, Arsenal fans are frustrated by Wenger's frugal transfer policies in addition to enduring a six year trophy drought and are desperate for the manager to show intent in the transfer market. With a number of players linked with an exit from Arsenal including the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, the Arsenal manager will look to bring in some quality to challenge for the title.

The Gunners struggled in defence in the 2010-11 season with set-pieces in particular being the major problem. Wenger has admitted his side's weaknesses in this regard and will look to bring in more height to the team which has a lot of short skilled players as opposed to the previous generation at Arsenal where there were more taller and stronger players.

In the 2010-11 season, Arsenal's best centre back Thomas Vermaelen only played in five games out of 38 league games with the last two games after the season had effectively been over. Though Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou have shown potential for the future, the Gunners would like to have an established centre back to provide solidity to the Gunners' defence.

With Manchester United close to signing talented prospect Phil Jones and Liverpool on the verge of concluding the deal for Jordan Henderson, it means more pressure for the Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger to strengthen his squad in the summer. The primary concern for the Arsenal manager would be on how to strengthen their defence next year because they have conceded much more than their rivals.

Arsenal have been linked with many defenders in this summer and they had also been linked with moves for many others last summer to fill gaps vacated by William Gallas and Sol Campbell. One of the defenders who have been linked with a move to Arsenal in the past is Ajax and Belgian Centre Back Jan Vertonghen, who has also been linked with a move to Manchester City. This article is about the advantages and disadvantages of signing the Belgium International.


Vertonghen is a left footed defender who is technically good on the ball and has been consistent in the recent past. The Belgian centre back, who is 6' 2" tall, has good aerial ability and also his reading of the game is excellent. He has been compared to Thomas Vermaelen and certainly shares some similarities in his style of play with his compatriot.

He is composed on the ball and has the ability to bring it out from the back and distribute it as well. He can also be effective in taking free-kicks, which has been a problem for Arsenal since Robin van Persie has not been at his best in set-piece duties. Also, he has scored a few cracking goals just like Vermaelen and it is difficult to not mention the similarities between the two which could be a reason for Wenger wanting to look at other alternatives.

The versatile defender can play as left back or as a defensive midfielder, where he has played in a number of games for Belgium where Thomas Vermaelen and Daniel Van Buyten are the preferred centre backs. Arsenal might have to deal with Song's absence due to the African Cup of Nations and should Song represent Cameroon, there are no suitable replacements for him but Vertonghen can fit in comfortably as a defensive midfielder.

Also there is a possibility that Gael Clichy might not sign a new contract with the club which means he could leave though his destination is still not clear. Though Kieran Gibbs is a good talent, he is ptone to injuries and had a start-stop season this year in addition to missing most part of the 2009-10 season due to injury and Left Back is another position where Vertonghen can play if necessary.

Vertonghen has good aerial ability and would certainly help Arsenal in dealing with set-pieces. Also, his versatility in the defensive midfield role means that he can play there to provide the Gunners with extra height on set-pieces and dealing with aerial threat. Laurent Koscielny has progressed to a great extent this season and has shown the makings of an excellent defender in the future. Koscielny could be entrusted with the job of partnering Thomas Vermaelen in the next season considering the fact that Koscielny has the attitude and talent to be a future first choice centre back for Arsenal.

Vertonghen will add a lot of depth and versatility to the squad, which will help considering that the Gunners have suffered a lot due to injuries to various players in recent seasons. At the age of 24, he is ready to take the next big step in his career having won the Dutch title in Ajax and will have the desire to establish himself as one of the world's best defenders.


With Manchester City also interested in Vertonghen, it could drive the price of the Belgian International by a few million and Arsenal will not be able to match City's wages if they decide to spend exorbitantly. Also Vertonghen is a player who is quite similar to Vermaelen and having two left sided defenders could be a problem. Also, he is quite attack minded similar to the mould of Vermaelen which means it could be a risk if they are paired together.

However, if Arsene Wenger does believe in the quality of Laurent Koscielny who played more than 40 games this year, then he could use the Frenchman alongside Thomas Vermaelen and push Vertonghen into defensive midfield. With a defender playing in midfield, Arsenal could revert to the 4-3-3 formation used in 2009-10 which will provide more freedom for Jack Wilshere to attack which is his natural instinct.

But Vertonghen's primary role is as a centre back and he will not like to play out of position though he is versatile, which is one of the reasons why he could opt out of Arsenal. Also, Wenger has confirmed that he would like to sign a player who is experienced with the physicality of the Premiership and it is not the case with Vertonghen who is making the next big step in his career.

However, securing a Premiership experienced defender could be a problem for Arsenal considering that if Manchester United sign Phil Jones, then it is unlikely that Blackburn will let senior defender Christopher Samba also leave in the same summer. Also, Arsenal may have to pay over the odds to sign Gary Cahill, who has been linked with the Gunners in the past and could look at other alternatives from the Premiership and foreign leagues as well.

With the manager, players and supporters frustrated by the trophy drought, Arsene Wenger will not be afraid to plunge the cash to secure the signings of quality players and it could be the summer which decides the future of Arsene Wenger and his youthful squad.


alan said...

great article. you make a good point and i agree that any central defensive signing will have to be versatile.

what about sakho from PSG? he is young and expensive but is physical, has been club captain (leadership) and might fit in well at arsenal. perhaps a profile for another day!

Anonymous said...

The CB-duo of Belgium consists of Kompany and Van Buyten. Vermaelen is, when fit, usually used as a LB.

When all these 3 defenders were fit, Vertonghen was either a substitute or used as a DM.
This year he has played his games for Belgium as LB due to the injury of Vermaelen

msnarun said...

vertonghen maybe a good signing but he has to adopt to the physicality of the epl.if he can play left back,then it would be good for wenger to sign him as clichy seems to be leaving in all probabilities.also song has no competitors for the role of defensive midfield.vertonghen may make song to improve better than last season and fight for his place.also last season when song was injury prone,we started losing points!so arsenal needs a defensive mid cum center back.vertonghen may fit the bill