The transfer window may not even be open yet, but Ajax centre-back Jurrien Timber is already being linked with a move to Manchester United. Erik ten Hag wants to be reunited with the defender.

  • By Sam Matthews Boehmer
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Over the coming weeks, Jurrien Timber has a big decision to make. Recent reports from prominent Dutch journalist Mike Verweij have suggested that within a few weeks Timber will have to decide between a new, short-term contract at Ajax, or an increasingly inevitable move to join Erik ten Hag at Manchester United.

With United desperately in need of a centre-back, the initial news, of United’s interest in Timber, came as a surprise to no one, as ten Hag turns back to a man who served him so well in Amsterdam. A calm head on young shoulders, brilliant on the ball, and a solid defender, all indications are that Timber will become a world-class centre-back, and one certainly good enough to start in an ailing United side.

This quality, despite Timber’s tender years (he is only 20), also explains why Ajax are fighting so hard to keep him, with a contract reportedly on the table that will last beyond his current deal, which expires in 2024. With a dearth of high-class centre-halves in their own ranks, combined with the fact that one more season at Ajax could increase his value further, this is a shrewd move by the Amsterdammers, but one that appears to have little chance of succeeding.

Reports from transfer guru Fabrizio Romano indicate that talks between the two clubs have already begun, hinting at Timber’s preference for a move to Manchester and the Premier League, re-joining ten Hag, who gave Timber his debut in Amsterdam.

At the moment, rumours suggest that the fee being discussed is around €35 million, though this seems a little low for a young player with at least two years left on his current contract. Matthijs De Ligt and Frenkie De Jong both went for over €70 million, and as Timber has an arguably similar potential, it can be expected that the fee will creep up with time, to an expected €50 million.

As the deal is reportedly so close, the discussion is now turning to the potential implications this move could have for both Ajax and Manchester United.

For Ajax, whatever the fee, losing Timber would be a massive blow. Having been a stalwart of the side, and winning the club’s Talent of the Year award, if he left there would be no one of a similar calibre, in the current side, for new manager Alfred Schreuder to replace him with.

Perr Schuurs has flattered to deceive in recent years, and there is a large question mark about his defensive capabilities, especially against faster, nippier attackers. Devyne Rensch is very young, and his appearances last season indicated he is far more suited to the right-back role, replacing Bayern Munich-bound Noussair Mazraoui, while Liam van Gelderen has only made a handful of appearances in the Ajax first team.

At United, Timber’s arrival would mark the beginning of ten Hag’s revolution at Old Trafford. A far better ball-player than any of the current defenders, Timber’s presence would suggest a transition to the possession-based, attacking approach that became so synonymous with ten Hag in Amsterdam.

The question is, however, where and how Timber would fit into the United side. As a right-sided centre-half who has very rarely played on the left, you would wonder who Timber would replace in the current side, with error-prone Harry Maguire the club’s only naturally left-sided centre-back. There is also a possibility that Timber could slot in at right-back, where he has played for Ajax on occasion. Considering Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot are the only options in that position, the right flank could be Timber’s short-term future in the United team.

Whatever happens, if this move takes place, it would mark the end of one era in Amsterdam and the beginning of another at Old Trafford.

Sam Matthews Boehmer (5 Posts)