By Greg Stobart
Tottenham have held initial talks with Ajax over a £10 million move for Jan Vertonghen after making him their top defensive target for the January transfer window, Goal.com understands.
Spurs manager Harry Redknapp is keen to bolster his defensive options and is looking for an upgrade on Sebastien Bassong, who is likely to be sold in the next transfer window.
Tottenham have been strongly linked with a fresh bid for Bolton defender Gary Cahill but Vertonghen has emerged as their leading target. The club have made their interest known to Ajax and believe the Amsterdam club would be willing to sell the 24-year-old in the New Year.
Vertonghen, who has been closely tracked by Arsenal, is under contract at Ajax until 2013 and is widely expected to leave the Amsterdam Arena either in January or next summer.
The Belgian international's departure from Ajax became more likely after Frank de Boer's side were eliminated from the Champions League on Wednesday night. Vertonghen has previously insisted he does not want to leave Ajax halfway through the season, but sources have told Goal.com that all parties are receptive to a January deal.
The sale of Luis Suarez to Liverpool last season showed that Ajax are willing to sell players in the January window while De Boer has already spoken of his interest in replacing Vertonghen with Inter defender Cristian Chivu.
Spurs have turned to Vertonghen as Cahill looks increasingly likely to sign for Chelsea while other targets such as Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels are considered too expensive and unattainable in January.
Redknapp has been worried by key injuries to Tottenham defenders and wants Vertonghen to add to Ledley King, Younes Kaboul, Michael Dawson and William Gallas as his central defensive options. The player's age, transfer fee and wages fit into the profile the Londoners look for in potential signings.
Vertonghen has progressed rapidly since breaking into the Ajax team in 2006 and was made captain earlier this year. Spurs scouts have reported his reading of the game and ability on the ball as key areas of his game.
Tottenham will only make a solid move for Vertonghen once more is known about the future of Bassong.
The Cameroon international cost £8m when he signed from Newcastle in 2009 but has found himself out of favour at White Hart Lane. He nearly joined QPR on the last day of the summer transfer window and the west London club are expected to renew their interest in January.
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