Why Jan Vertonghen Is the Best Central Defender in the Premier League Right Now

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterApril 17, 2013

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 10:  Jan Vertonghen of Tottenham celebrates scoring to make it 2-1 during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspurs at Anfield on March 10, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

For the first time in a long time, the usual suspects aren't topping the charts when it comes to the consensus on the best central defender in the English Premier League.

Nemanja Vidic, Vincent Kompany and John Terry have been plagued by injury while Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans are there or thereabouts, but Jan Vertonghen has really stolen the show.

The Belgian, signed this summer by Tottenham Hotspur for around £10.5 million (€12.2 million), came with a hefty reputation as one of Europe's best centre-backs on the market.

A lot was expected and fans were eager to see the man their club got to before Arsenal, and he settled in immediately.

The first thing he's nailed is the ability to defend. That sounds obvious, but it's remarkable how many players in the current game can't do one of their first and foremost priorities.

League only (pg) Tackles Interceptions Clearances Dribbles
Jan Vertonghen 2.9 2.9 8.5 0.8

Statistics via WhoScored?

Despite being beaten a few times in the air this season, he's adequately strong during tussles (you don't win them all) and gives Spurs a blanket of safety during set pieces.

At the other end, he's shown himself to be a big threat. Games at left-back and sweeper for Spurs and Ajax have seen Jan become a formidable threat going forward, and there's no centre-back you'd rather see steaming forward to lead a counter than this one.

His goal at Old Trafford culminated a superb marauding run and finish, while his two-goal haul at Anfield was rather impressive.

In March 2013, he was named Barclay's Player of the Month for his consistently excellent performances.

In short, he has all the characteristics of the perfect modern centre-back, and Andre Villas-Boas' system complements him in a big way.

He has the pace and quickness to patiently mark skill players, while he's also got the size to contend with the larger ones. He can play a high or deep line due to his diverse physicality and understanding of the game.

With the lack of form from some of the division's heavier names, Vertonghen is currently the best central defender in the English Premier League.

Perhaps there are a few who would contest that—chiefly Laurent Koscielny, Matija Nastasic and Phil Jagielka—but there's a strong case in favour of the Belgian.