Jan Vertonghen
Jan Vertonghen

Spurs have reportedly outstripped Arsenal in the race to sign Ajax captain Jan Vertonghen, who is also a target for other Premier League clubs, including Newcastle and Chelsea, according to a Daily Mail report.

The news comes as a bit of surprise given that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was believed to be close to a £7 million summer sweep for the Belgian centre-back. The deal for Vertonghen, should it go through, will be Wenger's second deal as he prepares for next season, following the earlier transfer of Lukas Podolski.

However, according to a report in Goal.com, Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp has also been scouting Vertonghen and is perhaps closer to a deal than Wenger is.

The 25 year old Belgian defender, who can also double up as a midfielder, still has a year left on his Ajax contract and has admitted he will move clubs at the end of the season. However, despite widespread speculation over his next club, the Belgian has not revealed any details.

"Jan has some dream clubs, which are special for him. Playing football in the top of the Premier League is something he has always hoped for," Mustapha Nakhli (Vertonghen's agent) told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, according to a Sun report.

Wenger wants Vertonghen as replacement for defenders Sebastian Squillaci and Johan Djourou, who are reportedly going to leave the Emirates at the end of the season. Redknapp meanwhile, who could lose Croatian midfielder Luka Modric and Welsh winger Gareth Bale respectively, wants to bring Vertonghen in to strengthen side ahead of next season's Champions League (if Spurs qualify).

Spurs had a January bid for their target rejected and chairman Daniel Levy was told the player would not leave before the end of the season and will also be aware they need a long-term replacement for aging French defender William Gallas. Another French defender on the club's rolls - Sebastian Bassong - now on loan with Wolves - may also leave the club, in search of first-team football.

As far as Vertonghen is concerned, he will naturally want a regular starting position at whichever club he does transfer to and the prospect, or at least the promise of, Champions League football, something that neither Spurs nor Arsenal can guarantee at the moment.

Tottenham are four points below the Gunners in the league. Whoever ends up in third place, assuming Chelsea take up a Champions League berth after winning this year's trophy, will probably qualifying for the prestigious European competition and this will be a vital factor in deciding who will land the sought after Belgian defender.