Given the success of Thomas Vermaelen and Jan Vertonghen in settling into life in the Premier League, it’s no surprise that Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur would be keen to pick up another player with similar qualities and Toby Alderweireld fits that bill almost spookily perfectly.
Like Vertonghen and Vermaelen, Alderweireld is a tall, technically adept defender who is comfortable playing in a multitude of positions. He even plays for Ajax, who Spurs signed Vertonghen from in the summer, a player who had also interested Arsenal.
With Vertonghen praising his former centre half partner, the indications were that Spurs might be set to make a move for the Ajax man, but it is Arsenal who now look to be leading the chase, with rumours of a bid of around £8 million imminent.
Since Vertonghen left Ajax in the summer Alderweireld has become the leader in the Dutch side’s back four, turning in plenty of impressive performances as his team qualified for the Europa League ahead of Manchester City.
Like Vertonghen, Alderweireld also has to move out his favoured centre back position for Belgium, due to the surfeit of excellent players they have in that area. This flexibility would be a great asset for Arsenal, with Vermaelen’s ability to move to left back something they have used on several occasions this season.
Ajax would no doubt be keen to keep hold of Alderweireld at least until the summer, as they have already had to adapt to the loss of Vertonghen this season. But Arsenal might be able to force them into selling with a decent sized bid, and could see this as a wise investment, as Alderweireld could be the subject of a transfer battle in the summer if he continues to impress for Ajax.
If Alderweireld takes to the Premier League as well as Vertonghen and Vermaelen, or even any of the other Belgian stars currently impressing around England, then the club that signs him will have made a very shrewd move. Arsenal could steal a march on any rivals for his signature with a decisive move now, and reap the benefits for years to come.
image: © mikehamm