Scouting Report: Is Ajax's Joel Veltman the Future of Tottenham's Defence?

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentFebruary 14, 2014

Netherlands' Joel Veltman sings the national anthem during the lineup prior to the  international friendly soccer match between Netherlands and Colombia at ArenA stadium in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday Nov. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Peter Dejong/Associated Press

Tottenham Hotspur are targeting Ajax's 22-year-old Dutch international centre-back Joel Veltman, per Daniel Jones at the Metro, so here is a scouting report on Veltman.

 

Great Talent 

Centre-backs Niklas Moisander, Stefano Denswil and Veltman have all played a part in Ajax having the best defence in the Eredivisie (20 goals conceded in 23 league games) this season.

Veltman averages more tackles per game (2.1) than Denswil (1.6) and Moisander (1.4).

In a 1-0 defeat to Vitesse, Veltman made a perfect last-man tackle to deny Vitesse left forward Lucas Piazon from racing through on goal.

Source: Vitesse TV

Piazon, on loan from Chelsea, had scored twice and created three assists in his last two games headed into the matchup against Ajax, so he was in excellent form. But Veltman snuffed out any clear-cut chance of Piazon scoring in that play. It was one of six tackles Veltman made that game. 

In terms of interceptions per game, Veltman (2.1) also tops Denswil (0.8) and Moisander (1.4).

During a 1-1 draw against PEC Zwolle, centre midfielder Mateusz Klich dinked the ball past Ajax right forward Lasse Schone, but Veltman read the play expertly.

He intercepted the ball and made a one-touch pass to teammate Thulani Serero, who went on to launch a counter-attack for Ajax.

Source: Ajax TV

One of Veltman's strengths this season is to turn defence into attack by going on direct and forceful runs.

In the 1-1 draw against Zwolle, he ran past three opposing players before being fouled by centre-back Joost Broerse.

Source: Ajax TV

From that proceeding free-kick, Schone swung the ball to teammate Davy Klaassen, who headed past Zwolle keeper Diederik Boer.

In a 3-0 win over Heracles Almelo, Veltman surged deep into Heracles' defensive half, offloaded the ball to then Ajax centre forward Danny Hoesen, who slotted the ball past Heracles keeper Remko Pasveer.

Source: Ajax TV

Statistically speaking, Veltman is a significantly more efficient dribbler than Real Madrid left attacking midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus centre midfielder Paul Pogba and Spurs centre attacking midfielder/left winger Christian Eriksen.

 

League OnlyDribbles Per GameDribble Success%
Eriksen1.157
Pogba 1.947
Ronaldo 2.056
Veltman 1.993

 

Error-Prone

Veltman tends to make inexplicable mistakes. 

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - NOVEMBER 26:  Referee, Pavel Kralovec of Czech Republic shows Joel Veltman (#12) of Ajax a red card after he tackles and gives away a penalty on Neymar of Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League Group H match between Ajax Amste
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

He was sent off in a 2-1 UEFA Champions League win over Barcelona for sliding in late to bring down left forward Neymar.

While Veltman was put in a precarious situation by teammate Ricardo van Rhijn's wayward backpass, Veltman should have pulled out of the tackle, rather than make a low-percentage challenge from behind.

With Ajax up 2-0 plus 42 minutes and stoppage time left, trusting goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen to come up big in a one-on-one situation against Neymar would have been better than what Veltman did: Concede a penalty and get sent off.

In a 1-1 draw against Utrecht, Veltman misread the play and allowed centre forward Steve De Ridder to latch on to a header from teammate Juan Agudelo (on loan from Stoke City).

De Ridder then outmuscled Veltman, rounded Ajax keeper Cillessen and scored.

Veltman should have been a play ahead and got in front of De Ridder. 

Source: Ajax TV

Another example of Veltman lacking awareness was when he headed the ball straight to Go Ahead Eagles centre midfielder Jeffrey Rijsdijk, who blasted over.

Ajax only won 1-0, so Veltman's mistake could have cost his team.

That was a small match.

Source: Ajax TV

In a big match against PSV Eindhoven, Veltman shanked his clearance, the ball fell fortuitously at the feet of PSV centre forward Jurgen Locadia, who miscued his finish.

Like against Go Ahead Eagles, Ajax won 1-0, so Veltman's error did not become a talking point.

Source: Ajax TV

 

Conclusion

Veltman's ball-playing prowess is concurrent with what Spurs management want in a modern-day centre-back, a la Jan Vertonghen and Vlad Chiriches. 

The major red flag is Veltman making mistakes as you cannot have your centre-back gifting clear-cut opportunities to opposing players. 

Yet, there is so much to like about Veltman: He can start attacks from the back, he averages 91.2 passes per game, completes 89 percent of his passes and concedes just 0.9 free-kicks per game. 

He is a world-class centre-back talent.

If he cuts out his mistakes, he won't be the future of Spurs' defence, but Barcelona's.

 

@allanjianga

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