Everyone has a Yin to their Yang. A special connection. A one of a kind bond. Something that goes beyond the earthly. Almost Godlike. Batman has Robin. Totti had Cassano. Sherlock has Watson. Trump has
Biden Twitter. Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar in Wayne’s World. Starsky & Hutch. Murtaugh and Riggs in Lethal Weapon. Scofield and Burrows in Prison Break. Cheeseburger and French Fries. There are tons of examples.
Mine’s Jan Vertonghen. I’ve been a huge fan and admirer of him ever since he rose to fame at Ajax in 2007. We grew up in the same hometown in Belgium, his house was only a couple of miles from mine. We went to the same primary school, albeit with one year difference, and played for the same youth club: the glorious green-white shirt of VK Tielrode.
So you know my heart skips a beat every now and then when there are rumors linking Vertonghen to AS Roma, credible or not. Vertonghen in his prime was always out of Roma’s league. He was Barcelona material. Juventus. PSG. Bayern. Manchester. AS Roma? Sadly not. I knew that, I’m no fool. But in 2020, a 33-year-old Vertonghen and a soon to be free agent on top of that? Oh boy, now we’re talking!
News is coming out Baldini is turning his attention to Vertonghen if the Smalling deal doesn’t go through. Which is logical as hell. An experienced Premier League centreback, tall, strong and a leader in defence on the wrong side of 30. It’s an almost like-for-like replacement. Jan might be 2 years older than Smalling but far from finished. Still in physical top shape and a certitude in Belgium’s NT. He’s by no means washed up.
Speaking of the Belgian NT—Vertonghen’s currently the record holder of most caps. He’ll probably be surpassed by Hazard and Witsel once he retires (both are a couple of years younger and not that far behind in the standings). Two quarter-finals in 2014 and 2016, a bronze medal at the WC 2018, he’s a member of Belgium’s finest generation of footballers. People here call him SuperJan for a reason...
You see, there is something for every fan to adore. For the brutes: he’s tall, not afraid to tackle and bully the strikers. For the stylist: his left foot is a gem and he’s able to give pinpoint passes from anywhere on the pitch. For the demanding fans: he’s versatile and can play in a back three, back four, as a left-back or even in midfield when needed. For the loyal fans: Jan loves each city in which he plays. Five seasons in Amsterdam, eight seasons in London. If he’s settled and feels at home, he won’t go anywhere soon. For the romantic fans: he’s honest and wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s even a bit clumsy as he dropped the Dutch Championship plate TWICE on the floor during celebrations. How cute.
And last but not least: He’s good-looking (or so I’m told).
It’s the perfect timing. The right place at the right time. Mourinho’s clearly not a fan of Jan and drops him in favor of the younger Sanchez and Dier or even his countryman Alderweireld. Unthinkable really, if you know Mourinho was a fan of defenders like Samuel, Materazzi, Cordoba, Lucio and Zanetti during his Inter days and those weren’t exactly spring chickens in 2009-2010.
Recently Vertonghen has been angry, sad, frustrated when he’s not on the pitch or being subbed off by José. It shows his commitment. He’s a winner. Jan still has a lot to give. But Mourinho’s not the right coach for him. And that will eventually lead to his exit in Tottenham this Summer.
He’s as passionate as the Roman fans and he said several times he wants to discover a new country/city/experience abroad. Well, Italy’s the perfect league for him, where the pace is slower yet games are more tactical. Older CB’s tend to do well in Serie A and Vertonghen is smart and experienced enough to have at least 2-3 stellar seasons at top level. He’s not aiming for big trophies, otherwise he would have left Tottenham a long time ago for a bigger PL club or another European powerhouse. He sees the bigger picture, he wants the whole package.
In Italy he can compete/hook up with his fellow Belgian buddies Radja, Mertens and Lukaku and create that special bond with the city just like foreigners Dzeko, Nainggolan, Strootman, Taddei and Mexes before him. Really, if there ever was a time for the sentence ‘Match made in heaven’ at Chiesa, it is now.
Enough said. Forget Pedro and bring my boy home, Baldini. Use all your powers. Even if it means dropping Chris Smalling. If Smalling was a hit this season, then Jan is going to go through the roof. And we will all have to send flowers and a big fat ‘Thank you’ to Mourinho. Marky my words.
SuperJan, Rome is waiting. And someone from Tielrode will be celebrating.