Why Joel Veltman is fast becoming one of Brighton & Hove Albion’s greatest ever signings
After a string of impressive performances, Joel Veltman is fastly becoming one of Brighton & Hove Albion’s greatest ever signings.
Veltman embodies Albion’s shrewd transfer dealings of late, and in the footballing era where clubs are seemingly parting with huge sums of money to improve their squads, it’s easy to forget the Seagull’s acquired the Netherlands international’s services for just £900,000.
The 29-year-old has since shown his quality and experience in home matches against Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, where Albion were unfortunate to only gain one point across both fixtures after dominating both throughout.
Had it not have been for an inspired performance from the Villains’ goalkeeper, Emiliano Martinez, Albion could have been two goals up before the break; and Veltman played an integral part in keeping the likes of Jack Grealish and Ollie Watkins quiet on the night.
Against Dean Smith’s side, he produced two tackles and interceptions respectively, and was a threat going forward by recording two key passes, completed dribbles and shots respectively.
Football can be a cruel game at times, and this was highlighted in the Seagulls’ latest defeat to rivals Crystal Palace. The hosts created the most chances and where often the oppressors, but were knocked down by a late sucker-punch from Jordan Ayew, who volleyed past Robert Sanchez deep into second-half stoppage time.
Against the run of play in the first, Christian Benteke handed Roy Hodgson’s team the lead going into the interval, but Veltman stepped up early in the second half by netting his first goal in Albion colours to level the score.
After slight confusion across the Palace backline, the ball broke to the 29-year-old who was able to ferociously strike the ball, first time, into the back of the net. A goal was the least he, and Albion deserved as they pressed for a winner- but to no avail.
Perhaps Veltman’s greatest trick so far is to prevent the absence of the influential Tariq Lamptey from being felt. After a rocky start to his career on the south coast, he’s adapted to the Premier League perfectly and provides much-needed quality in both attack and defence for the club.
The former Ajax defender has averaged 2.2 tackles and interceptions so far across his Premier League appearances. When on the ball, he also provides a calmness that forces turnovers and turns attack into defence by drawing 1.2 fouls per game.
Veltman’s versatility prevents Potter from receiving a team selection headache when Lamptey returns from injury, as he can play anywhere across the backline- and potentially in midfield if the situation requires it.
At 29-years-old there’s still life in his top-flight and international career too. Frank de Boer has taken the reigns of the Netherlands national team after Ronald Koeman departed for Barcelona, and Veltman played under the former Crystal Palace manager for three years between 2013 and 2016 at Ajax before De Boer sought pastures new.
Despite Fulham gaining momentum and applying pressure to the teams above the relegation zone, Albion should still be seeking those above them rather than tentatively looking over their shoulder. Potter’s men have shown enough in recent weeks to suggest they will gain enough points to maintain their Premier League status and if Veltman continues to play an important for the club, then he’ll be fondly remembered by the AMEX faithful in years to come.