Arsenal and their North London rivals Tottenham are set to do battle for 22-year defender Joel Veltman. Arsenal want the youngster as a replacement for Club captain Thomas Vermaelen whose future is in doubt, while Spurs want him to another former Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen. Vermaelen , despite being the team Captain is behind Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny in the pecking order at the Emirates.
Vermaelen, 28, arrived in North London in the summer of 2009 for an initial fee of 10 million Euros (rising to 12 million Euros) and made the central defence position his own alongside William Gallas. He finished his debut season in England with 45 appearances and 8 goals in all competitions. However, a combination of injuries and a loss of form have restricted ‘the Verminator’ to just 20 appearances across the competitions this season.
The last time both teams went head to head for an Ajax defender, Tottenham trumped Arsenal for the signature of Vertonghen.
The 6-ft tall Veltman made his debut for the Dutch national team in November last year against Colombia and is hotly tipped to make Louis van Gaal’s World Cup squad for the summer. He made his debut for Ajax in August, 2012 in the match against N.E.C. when he came on as a substitute in the closing stages. The young defender has made 29 appearances in all competitions for Ajax this season with two goals to his name.
Veltman’s current contract binds him to Ajax until the summer of 2017 and while the Dutch club would like to keep him at all costs, but it is said that a transfer fee in the region of 9 million Euros would be enough to persuade the Dutch Champions to do business.
While Vermaelen is known for his quickness with the ball at his feet and goal scoring abilities as a defender, I’d rather we went for someone fresh with a great potential to develop. I believe we have already seen the best of our Belgian defender and Joel Veltman may be the key.