Why West Ham should plot a January swoop for Ajax’s Joel Veltman
Back in July, the Daily Mail had claimed West Ham were interested in signing Ajax defender Joel Veltman. However, no deal materialised during the summer transfer window.
Joel Veltman, 27, who has been at the Amsterdam club since 2001, was on the treatment table for large quarters of this last season to nurse an ACL injury that he had suffered towards the end of the 2017-18 campaign.
This, alongside the rise of Noussair Mazraoui at the Dutch club, saw the 27-year-old fall down the pecking order, making just four league starts for Erik Ten Haag’s exciting side last season.
However, Veltman has been regular for Ajax since the start of this season. He has played in nine Eredivisie games, whilst appearing seven times in the Champions League. With the Dutchman doing well for last season’s Champions League semi-finalists, West Ham should revive their interest in him in January.
West Ham do have Ryan Fredericks and Pablo Zabaleta as right-back options. Fredericks has started the new campaign as the club’s undisputed first-choice right-back.
However, the former Fulham man’s performances have been highly inconsistent, showing a lack of defensive nous in a few games.
Fredericks’ deputy, Zabaleta, 34, signed a new contract at the London Stadium before the start of 2019/20 campaign, as Manuel Pellegrini wanted to keep him at the club. But the former Argentinean international is past his prime and is no longer the force he once was in his prime.
With the Hammers selling Sam Byram to Norwich City in the summer, Fraser apparently lacks competition in his position. That being said, Pellegrini must go all out for Veltman to add quality and strength in the right-back position.
The 27-year-old has been an incredibly consistent performer for Ajax over the last few years, and he could be just the man to help take West Ham to another level in terms of solidarity at the back. Veltman is a right-back by trade, but he can also operate in central defence.
He would provide great competition for the likes of Fredericks and Zabaleta, whilst also offering cover for Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna, Fabian Balbuena and Winston Reid.
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The Netherlands international is a real leader, a strong, tough-tackling defender, and he seems to be ideally suited to the forceful nature of the Premier League. Plus, he is vastly experienced and would improve Pellegrini’s squad as a whole.
Despite Veltman extending his contract until 2021, West Ham must not hesitate to bring the 27-year-old to the London Stadium.