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Spurs star snubbed Arsenal over Wenger’s midfield plan

Jan Vertonghen. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Jan Vertonghen. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA

Friday, December 14, 2012
8:00 AM

Jan Vertonghen turned down a move to Arsenal after hearing that Arsene Wenger wanted to deploy him in midfield, the Tottenham player has revealed.

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Vertonghen joined Spurs from Ajax this summer and has gone on to become a fans’ favourite after a series of excellent displays for Andre Villas-Boas’ team.

The Belgian started his White Hart Lane career as a centre-back but soon moved over to left-back - the position he plays in for his country - after an injury to Benoit Assou-Ekotto.

Gunners manager Wenger, who is under pressure after Arsenal’s poor start to the campaign, was interested in signing Vertonghen, but the 25-year-old instead opted to move to the Gunners’ north London rivals after it became clear that the Frenchman wanted him to play in midfield.

“[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.

“I’m not afraid of competition, but the overall picture of Spurs appealed to me more.”

Spurs manager Villas-Boas initially moved Gareth Bale to left-back following Assou-Ekotto’s injury, but Vertonghen has been a more effective solution during the Cameroonian’s absence.

With Assou-Ekotto now back in full training following his three-month layoff, Vertonghen looks set to return to the heart of the defence, much to his delight.

He added: “Ultimately, I just came to play at centre back.

“Gareth Bale had to play left back, but it did not work so he pushed forward and I moved to full-back.

“I see myself still as a centre-back. I’m not agile enough to play against players like Nani and [Raheem] Sterling.”

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