Arsenal and Newcastle to battle it out for Ajax contract rebel
Belgian international Jan Vertonghen has reportedly refused to pen a new deal with Ajax and having made no secret of his desire to ply his trade in England – and Arsene Wenger and Alan Pardew are readying bids for the coveted defender’s signature.
Vertonghen’s current deal expires in June 2013 and seeing as Ajax have no intention of letting him exit on the cheap, a summer bidding war is set to ensue.
The 24-year-old defender, who has won 36 caps for Belgium, is also said to be on Tottenham’s radar but Harry Redknapp’s departure would seemingly scupper their transfer plans, for the time being at least.
The extent of Arsenal’s muscle in the summer transfer window will depend largely on their participation in next season’s Champions League.
Consecutive wins against Spurs and Liverpool has seen their price to finish in the top four plummet to 8/15 and Wenger’s men now have third-placed Tottenham firmly within their sights.
Their position in the transfer market would be significantly strengthened by automatic qualification for Europe’s elite competition, allowing Arsenal to do their business in the close season rather than being forced to wait until the final few days of August for their European fate to be sealed.
If Wenger has any hope of retaining the services of Robin Van Persie, Arsenal have to show their intent early in the window and tying up a deal for Vertonghen could well fit the bill.
Newcastle meanwhile have gone some way to shaking off their tag as a selling club, securing long-term deals for goalkeeper Tim Krul and skipper Fabricio Coloccini.
For all their good work this season, standing still is simply not an option for Pardew, and though at 14/1 they are now very much outsiders to secure Champions League football, Vertonghen could well prefer to join a club on the rise rather than become entangled in the relative turmoil at Arsenal.