Jan Vertonghen has once again spoken about his decision to join Tottenham over Arsenal in 2012 however he’s left one important bit of information out.
Vertonghen almost signed for Arsenal from Ajax five-and-a-half years ago but the centre-back changed his mind and signed for Spurs, then managed by Andre Villas-Boas. Several years on, the defender claims he’s never looked back.
“It was as close as it can get,” he told the Mirror. “My agent went to Arsenal, I wasn’t there myself but it was very respectful and in the end I had to make a choice and I chose Spurs. I chose Spurs and I think it’s turned out well.
“I felt I was joining a great team, with great plans and the personal chats I had with people at Spurs were great and I followed my instinct, my gut feeling and that’s it.”
In December 2012, the Belgium international, who was buddies with Thomas Vermaelen, explained that he hadn’t joined Arsenal because Arsene Wenger wanted him to play as a midfielder.
The 30-year-old has only ever played as a defensive midfielder once in his career, so you can understand why he wasn’t that keen to join Arsenal and play as one.
“(Arsenal’s interest) was concrete, but they wanted me to be a controller in the midfield, an Emmanuel Petit-type,” Vertonghen told Dutch website NUsport, reported by the Daily Mail at the time.
“I’m not afraid of competition, but the overall picture of Spurs appealed to me more.”
At Spurs, Vertonghen could play in his favoured centre-back position without facing competition for a starting spot week in, week out.
He was just 24 at the time and trying to make a career for himself in the Premier League, as well as his national team. Of course he would prefer to join a side where he could almost definitely make it as opposed to one where he might not.
Obviously the defender isn’t going to regret his decision either. Although he’s not won anything in his five-and-a-half years at Spurs, he’s started 176 Premiership matches and made a name for himself. He’s also been capped 98 times for Belgium.
I don’t think Arsenal feel that hard done-by either.