Pardew’s Dutch trip sees Newcastle join the race for Ajax star

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Ajax centre half Jan Vertonghen has attracted interest from Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal already this season, but with Newcastle now possessing very real Champions League aspirations, they have joined the chase for the dominant Belgian.

Alan Pardew would have initially feared he had little chance of signing Vertonghen in competition against such giants, but as his Magpies now perch just a point outside the top four, he has stepped up his interest in the £10million-rated defender.

Champions League qualification would ensure a financial windfall for the St James’s Park club, and players with experience in Europe’s elite competition would be priority targets for Pardew.

Vertonghen fits the bill, having performed in both the Champions League and Europa League this season, and Pardew’s trip to Holland to see him in action this weekend suggests that his interest in the player is very serious.

Although the Ajax captain has in the past declared his willingness to unite with international team-mate Thomas Vermaelen at Arsenal, his main priority is to join a side which offers him Champions League football.

Should Newcastle be able to overhaul Tottenham and Chelsea en route to a top four finish, Vertonghen may see a move to the North East as preferable, with first team opportunities likely to be less sporadic for the Toon as they perhaps would be at United, City or Arsenal.

Centre back is a position that Pardew is desperately short of cover in, and even with FC Twente defender Douglas having reportedly agreed to join the Magpies, a move for 24-year-old Vertonghen remains a very real possibility.

Their existing squad members are sure to be in-demand this summer too, after such a surprisingly consistent and fruitful season.

Champions League qualification though, coupled with ambitious signings such as the Ajax captain, could convince players such as Tim Krul and Cheick Tiote to commit their futures to the club.

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