Daily Archives: March 20, 2012

10 Things You Need To Know About Jan Vertonghen

Arsenal suffered a patchy loss of form in the start of the year, triggering a great depression amongst the Arsenal faithful. Many AMGs (Arsene Must Go) or WOBs (Wenger Out Brigade) came out from their lairs during that period and requested for Arsene Wenger’s head on a plate, literally speaking.

Arsenal’s loss to Fulham at the start of the year was highly unfortunate as Bobby Zamora’s sucker punch was basically the last fruitful attack any team had on that pitch. The embarrassing loss to Swansea was a bitter pill to swallow but the events that occurred on the pitch when Manchester United visited the Emirates can’t be forgotten for years to come.

A manager that has made “50,000″ substitutions was questioned about his managerial and tactical ability when he withdrew an 18-year old upcoming star for Russia’s captain.

A major factor certainly contributed to Arsenal’s atrocious form in January and one can look no further than the fact that all recognized full backs were nursing injuries during that period. The lack of natural full backs distorted Arsenal’s balance as width, guile and most importantly, crosses were not offered from the flanks.

This prompted Wenger’s men to attack through the center but the through passes weren’t really coming as Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky weren’t in good form at that point.

Andre Santos was out with ankle problems, Bacary Sagna was recuperating from a fractured leg suffered in October, Kieran Gibbs had groin issues while Carl Jenkinson had back problems.

While Thomas Vermaelen, Johan Djourou, Laurent Koscielny, Ignasi Miquel, Francis Coquelin and Nico Yennaris bit their bit to hold the fort, some Arsenal fans (me included) sent pleas for a new full back to arrive at the Emirates.

While names like Wayne Bridge and an Omani left back were mentioned, the fans drooled in the prospect of the potential arrival of Ajax’s Jan Ventonghen. This is a sought-after player that’s also in the radar of many illustrious European clubs, Arsenal included.

Here are 10 things you need to know about Arsenal’s transfer prospect, Jan Ventonghen:

He’s Versatile

This is the principal reason why the juggernauts of European football want his signature. Jan Ventonghen is a natural center back but he’s also adept as a left back and a holding midfielder, giving his manager options to cover for the worst injury crisis.

Ventonghen also has a good technique and well as good positioning making him a perfect candidate for any role his manager is willing to deploy him on the pitch.

He’s a Close Friend of Thomas Vermaelen

Jan Venronghen was born on the 24th of April, 1987 in a city called Sint-Niklaas (not the self-proclaimed world’s best striker). Thomas Vermaelen on the other hand, was born on the 14th of November, 1985 in Kapellen, Belgium.

In his breakthrough 2008/09 campaign, he forged a telepathic understanding with his defensive partner Thomas Vermaelen on and off the pitch. Thomas Vermaelen’s exit to Arsenal was a big wrench to leave for Ventonghen but he did well to forge a good understanding with Vermaelen’s replacement, Toby Alderweireld.

It’s worth noting that Alderweireld is of Belgian descent, as Vermaelen before him.

He Has Scored One of the Most Bizarre Goals in Existence

In 2006, there was an incident that occurred in a KNVB Cup game against Cambuur Leeuwarden, which was also his first ever home game at the Amsterdam ArenA.

Ajax was 2-0 up when Ventonghen’s teammate suffered an injury thereby causing the ref to stop play. Ventonghen’s attempted a back pass to the Cambuur goalkeeper while a teammate was receiving treatment but instead the ball sailed past the shocked goalkeeper, much to the amusement of the spectators and the bewilderment of the players.

According to the FIFA Rule Book, a team is suppose to return play back to the side that played the ball out of play but Ventonghen “returned play” by scoring a goal.

Unfortunately, the goal had to stand.

He Worked His Way to the Ajax Captaincy

Ventonghen joined Ajax in 2003 but made his league debut three years later. Like Thomas Vermaelen, he secured a loan switch to RKC Waalwijk to boost his confidence, as well to get much needed match fitness and playing time.

Following the exit of Luis Suarez to Liverpool in the winter of 2011, Ventonghen was appointed as the vice-captain to Maarten Stekelenburg. When Stekelenburg ended his amazing 10-year stint with Ajax to move to AS Roma, the captain’s armband was given to Ventonghen in his eighth year at the club.

Funnily enough, Ventonghen rise to the Ajax captaincy reminds me of a certain man who was a deputy governor to Diepreye Alameyeisegha. Shortly afterwards, he became the governor of that state.

He aimed higher to become the second-in-command to Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua and now, we all know who Nigeria’s No. 1 citizen is.

Who said that goodluck…things don’t come to those who wait?

He’s Fluent in Some European Languages

Despite the fact that football is widely regarded as a universal language, knowing the native tongue of the land you’re plying your trade can help you adapt quickly.

The French Ligue 1 can boast of the largest outlay of African contingent because of the nation’s colonialism of the “Francophone” African countries in the yesteryear.

Many West Africans ply their trade in France because the language makes it seem like “home away from home”.

Jan Ventonghen is of Belgian descent so his fluency in Dutch will certainly be near perfect. However, he’s also adept in some Italian and everyone’s favorite, the English language. This would mean that Ventonghen won’t have any problems with the language barrier if he makes a switch to the Premier League.

However, his expertise in foreign languages is no where near ex-Gunner Phillippe Senderos, who is believed to be fluent in French, English, German, Serbian, Spanish, Italian and some traces of Latin.

Amazing.

He Began His Career in Germinal Beerschot Antwerpen Club

Like his buddie Thomas Vermaelen, Ventonghen began his career in the Belgian Pro-League outfit Germinal Beerschot Antwerpen before he was snapped by Ajax’s scouts.

Beerschot is a club that was formed in 1920 and their main rivals are Royal Antwerp FC, an affiliate of Manchester United. Other prominent footballers that have placed their names in Germinal Beerschot folklore are Ibrahima Sidibe and Colombian icon, Daniel Cruz.

He’s an Injury Prone Player

The injury gods ravage footballers of their own choosing but Jan Ventonghen is one of their honorable customers. He was tipped for great things in the start of the 2007/08 campaign but the presence of Thomas Vermaelen and Johnny Heitenga didn’t really help his cause.

However, Ventonghen suffered an injury that sidelined him for a considerable chunk of that season. He has also twanged his hammy a couple of times and he has suffered setbacks a few years back after aggravating his hamstring again.

In a prestigious venue like Arsenal’s treatment room, he’ll never be lonely if he gets injured. There might be a certain Abou Diaby chilling around.

He Has Some Potent Venom on His Left Foot

Jan Ventonghen has notched up 211 appearances for Ajax so far and he has 26 goals to his name. While some have come from headers as expected from a center back, Ventonghen can release a surface-to-goal missile from his left boot.

Down the years, many left-footed defenders have been renowned for shooting piledrivers from their favorite left boot and the king of the throne was Roberto Carlos.

A defender so good on PlayStation 1 that I used him as a striker most times to devastating effect. Avid game users can attest to Roberto Carlos’ shooting power.

Having a fierce shot as a center back can be a great asset because there’ll be times when he may waltz forward and find some space on the edge of the area. Arsenal’s goal scoring maiden Paul Robinson can tell you what Thomas Vermaelen did to him in the 6-2 rout.

I haven’t even spoken about Daniel Agger.

He Wants to Join Arsenal

This is the best thing you need to know about Jan Ventonghen. He wants to join Arsenal Football Club.

Many skeptics believe that he may not want to play “second fiddle” to Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker but Arsenal needs a player like Ventonghen to bring out the best in these incumbent defenders.

Besides, Ventonghen is a better full back than Kieran Gibbs and Andre Santos. He’ll be a valuable asset to the club and he’s one for the future because he’s only 24.

Arsene Wenger knows best.

Sayonara.

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