Newcastle United have endured the heartache of missing out on a number of potential superstars over the years, with one such missed opportunity that of former Tottenham Hotspur defender, Jan Vertonghen.
The Belgian colossus had seemingly been a target for the Magpies back in 2012, with then-boss Alan Pardew believed to have been keeping tabs on the centre-back in the months leading up to the summer window.
A report at the time suggested that the Englishman was hoping to secure a move for the 6 foot 2 titan provided his side secured a Champions League berth, with Tynesiders having enjoyed a fine campaign to put themselves in top-four contention.
The player himself – then at Ajax – had sparked hope of a deal after admitting he would not be signing a new contract with the Eredivisie side, albeit with both Spurs and north London rivals Arsenal also in the picture for the highly-rated asset.
As it proved, the northeast side ultimately finished fifth behind the Lilywhites in the Premier League table, albeit with the latter side also cruelling missing out on a place in Europe’s premier competition, as a result of Chelsea’s showpiece triumph.
Despite having not been able to offer Champions League football, Tottenham still managed to secure the services of Vertonghen that summer, with the player joining for a relative bargain fee of around £9.5m.
Frustratingly for Newcastle supporters, one report at the time suggested that despite Pardew’s lengthy admiration for the player, much-maligned owner Mike Ashley was unwilling to stump up the cash to match the bid of their top-flight rivals, even though the price tag appears somewhat minimal in comparison to today’s market.
Having missed out on that switch, the club instead ended the window with two other centre-back arrivals in the form of young Curtis Good and Frenchman Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, albeit with neither man making too great of an impression.
As for Vertonghen, the Belgium international quickly cemented a prominent role in the capital, going on to rack up 315 appearances for the club over the next eight years, emerging as something of a “leader” for his now former side – in the words of Rich Parry.
Also lauded as a “hero” by journalist Kristof Terreur, the £1.8m-rated gem has also been a long-serving presence for his country, having made a staggering haul of 139 appearances for the Red Devils over the last 15 years.
As he had been for Spurs, the current Anderlecht man – who signed from Benfica last month after a two-year stint in Portugal – could well have been a colossal figure at St James’ Park for a number of years, had Ashley simply plumped up the cash.
While of course there was intense rival interest for the defender’s signature, it seemingly represents yet another mistake of the Englishman’s dismal period at the helm.