Deposed La Liga champions Barcelona are in desperate need of reinforcement at centre-half, with long-time captain Carles Puyol moving up to assistant director of football at the Camp Nou, and Gerard Pique looking less and less like the defender many hoped he would become.
According to the latest of reports, Los Blaugrana have identified Tottenham Hotspur’s Jan Vertonghen to fill the gaping void the 36-year-old leaves at the heart of defence.
The Belgium international has been with Spurs since summer 2012, and cannot be blamed for any of the club’s travails under Andre Villas-Boas and later Tim Sherwood, having moved from centre-half to left-back and back again as a result of the north Londoners’ poor recruitment strategy.
A similar, but somewhat happier, problem has emerged at international level, as Vertonghen prefers to play in the middle, but his native Belgium were blessed with enough in-form centre-halves to move him across to full-back at the World Cup.
That didn’t affect ‘Super Jan’ too much, as he racked up a thoroughly decent WhoScored.com average rating of 7.47 before de Rode Duivels went out at the hands of Argentina in the quarters.
Barcelona will have been impressed by Vertonghen’s marauding dribbles and constant attacking threat in Brazil, where he scored one and put in teammates for six goal-scoring opportunities, as it’s a truth universally acknowledged that Blaugrana defenders must have some of that in their locker.
An Eredivisie-winning captain and 2012 Dutch player of the year at Ajax, albeit after regular skipper Luis Suarez (imagine that?) high-tailed it for Liverpool mid-tilt, Vertonghen was also named Premier League player of the month for March 2013 and made the team of the season that year.
The 27-year-old still has two years left on his contract, so he won’t come cheap, but with the player likely to want the move – he has stated his desire for Champions League football in recent months – then a fee of around £25m, which has been suggested, might get him.