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Daniel Levy’s Imaginary Shortlist: Joel Veltman

The Ajax & Dutch International could be a needed injection of quality in depth for the 2017-18 Tottenham team

Netherlands v Luxembourg - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

We at Cartilage Free Captain do transfer rumors often, and we do them well. But sometimes it’s worth doing a deeper dive into Tottenham Hotspur’s transfer targets, so we’re bringing back a series from a couple of years ago — Daniel Levy’s Imaginary Shortlist. These are players that Spurs have either been linked to in the transfer window, or sometimes who they should be linked to as the club tries to improve to challenge for a Premier League title.

Up next: Ajax and Dutch National Team Defender: Joel Veltman

The Basics

Name: Joel Veltman
Age: 25
Team: Ajax
Nationality: Dutch
League: Eredevisie
Primary position: Center-back
Can also play: Right-back, Right center-back

Joel Veltman is versatile defender representing both Ajax and the Dutch National Team. Veltman has been a staple in Ajax’s defense featuring at both the center-back and right-back position for the last four years. Specifically the last two seasons have seen him draw a heavy workload from the Dutch giants. He notched forty-four appearances, including nine in Europe, in 2015-16, while also playing in forty-three matches — thirteen of which were in Europe in 2016-17. He was a starter in Ajax’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester United in the 2017 Europa League final.

Veltman has also been involved in the Dutch National team from a young age. He’s represented Clockwork Orange at every level including the U-17, U-19, and U-20 levels and has been part of the full national team since 2013. He’s appeared seventeen times for his country, scored two goals, and was part of the twenty-three man squad that traveled to the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014.

The Specifics

Joel Veltman has been loosely linked with a Premier League move for a few years now, yet this summer the transfer rumors have really ramped up. At twenty-five years old, coming off a Europa League final, with just one year remaining on his contract, this seems like the appropriate time for the Dutch international to move on from Ajax.

Veltman brings pedigree and a multi-positional talent to the table for any club pursuing him this summer. Like Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld before him, he is a ball playing defender who can get forward in the attack. Probably his best offensive quality is his ability to use pace and dribbling ability to beat defenders down the flank. He is a far cry from Kyle Walker in this manner, but in terms of deputizing on the right flank, he could offer more than Kieran Trippier in getting forward in the attack. From the center-back position he probably plays a bit more similar to Jan than he does Toby. It wouldn’t be surprising to picture Veltman playing one-twos from the center-back spot, but his pinpoint accuracy in playing balls over the top isn’t akin to the precision of Alderweireld.

In terms of defending, he is both capable and aggressive. Veltman has a penchant for dramatic tackles and when he makes contact, he gets stuck in. Further, his pace allows him to compensate for his team when the defense is broken down. In general, he isn’t too bad positionally and like our other Ajax products, can read the game quite well.

Where Veltman struggles is in his gaffes, which he tends commit more than Spurs’ supporters would hope for. Combining the 2016-17 Eredevisie and Europa League competitions this year, he amassed twelve yellow cards and two red cards. Thats a lot for the Eredivisie and the Europa League and it shows that he can be reckless in his challenges. Compare this to Toby and Jan, who together only amassed eleven yellow cards in all competitions total, and this is a troubling stat. Further, Veltman has been known for poor clearances and puzzling decision-making in the final third. Alongside overly-aggressive tackling, this is an uneasy pairing. Lastly, he isn’t the tallest of defenders. This is more applicable to the the center-back spot rather than the right-back position, but one has to question his ability to mark large Premier League strikers in set piece situations

He also may not be in contention for sportsman of the year.

With all of this said, I think Veltman is a pretty ideal signing for Spurs. He isn’t the sexy marquee signing of the summer, but he adds dependable depth to two positions where we really need help. While I think he will be viewed as more of a center-back, he is more of a tweener than Jan or Toby and can use his athleticism to fill-in at the right-back sufficiently. In other words, I don’t picture him being too out of place in either role. Veltman also, it seems, wants to come to Spurs. He already has relationships with a few players in the side and Ajax, quite frankly, has served Tottenham Hotspur really well. I trust the players that come through that system, so these links are reassuring.

The Verdict

Likely price: £10m.

Chances that the valuation is wrong: It could be lower! We’ve already written that the deal could be priced around £8 million pounds. Either way, Tottenham won’t have to sell the house to obtain the services of Veltman. A £8 to £12 million pound range fee seems about right.

Team’s willingness to sell: Ajax is always chalk-full of young talent and this is kind of what they do. They have a twenty-five year old that was instrumental in getting them to a European Cup final. From their end, he has already served his purpose. If there are no suitors, of course, they would be happy for him to stay, but I doubt the Amsterdam outfit puts up much of a fight if a reasonable offer comes in.

Fit at Tottenham Hotspur: Veltman grew up in one of the best youth systems in Europe, played under the microscope at Ajax, and is a consistent fixture in the Dutch National Team. He also features at two positions that need strengthening. From a strictly professional standpoint, the jump to Spurs and the Premier League shouldn’t be too overwhelming for him. Veltman is friends with Vincent Janssen and should have crossed paths with Christian Eriksen, Michel Vorm, Jan Vertonghen, and Toby Alderweireld at some point. That’s a huge number of players to have connections with when transferring. He also seems to be perfect for this team in that he can bring quality to its depth, without disrupting the tight-knit mold of the existing players. He also will come relatively cheap. It seems like a no brainer from both the player and club’s standpoint.

Possibility he ends up at Spurs: High. Spurs already have a solid relationship with Ajax in terms of transfer business, Veltman checks off a lot of boxes to our needs, he’s run his course in Holland, he wants to play for Tottenham, and will be quite affordable. If Spurs want to pursue him, they should be able to sign him.

Grade if this transfer goes through: B+.