Jurrien Timber – Why he’s a United target

Manchester United seem set to start their Ten Hag dynasty with his former player, Jurrien Timber. The Dutch defender has been integral for Ajax in their title-winning campaign this season and has demonstrated a level of composure and technique when required. He played 30 times for the Eredivisie champions this season. He is also set to feature for the Netherlands at the Qatar World Cup. Timber plays in a back three for the Netherlands but switches to a back four for Ajax. Be it as a centre back or a right back, Timber shows excellent versaility. So why do United want or need him? Let’s break it down:

Why do United need Jurrien Timber?

Manchester United have had defensive problems all season long. No matter what you think about the midfield and goalkeeper being factors, the defence has been leaky and exposed. Harry Maguire has not been in good form this season and is certainly glad to see the back of it. Raphael Varane has had so many injuries this season that when he has played, he’s had no sort of form or consistency to keep him going. Shaw has had a similar problem and Wan-Bissaka couldn’t force his way into the squad. When Dalot and Telles played the wide areas were fully exposed and free for the opposition to roam. It was a nightmarish sight watching United defend last season. Pair that with an injury-hit and thin midfield and a negative goalkeeper and you have a serious problem.

What United need is quality in depth. In theory, they have a very strong starting XI. Shaw, Maguire and Varane are guaranteed starters when fit. Wan-Bissaka’s future is in doubt but for me, he is far better than Dalot and worth keeping. So that is where Timber comes in. He can offer excellent depth at centre back with Bailly and Tuanzebe set to leave and he can push Wan-Bissaka for a starting place and even displace him if Ten Hag doesn’t want to keep him. He offers versatility and quality in two vulnerable positions at the club and would be a welcome addition that will add strong competition to the squad.

The transfer talk so far:

Manchester United seem to have started talks regarding a deal for Jurrien Timber with both his agent and Ajax. It seems that Ajax value him at around €40m but United believe they can negotiate a lower sum with add ons and bonuses totalling the deal to around that fee. A lot of people are worrying that United won’t get the deal over the line but really, they have a free run at him and can afford to take some time with pre-season not starting for over a month. Tbey have plenty of time to get all the deals necessary done.

Timber is also slightly hesitant as his priority is to play regular football and be in contention to feature regularly for the Netherlands with the Qatar World Cup on the horizon. I think he will realise/be told that with Varane’s injury record he will certainly get chances to play and with the potential sales of either Dalot or Wan-Bissaka, both of whom don’t have great injury records, he will certainly play 20/25 games at right back. If he trains and plays well, there’s no reason at all he cannot compete with the defenders at United. He needs to play regularly but also show ambition and be prepared to compete for his role.

What qualities does Timber have?

Jurrien Timber as mentioned, offers quality in two important areas for Manchester United. But what qualities does he have that would make him a good purchase?


Well, for starters, Timber was one of the best ball-playing centre backs around this season. He averages a pass accuracy of 94.7% which is one of the best in Europe. Timber uses a range of passes but mostly 5-30 yard passes. He is not a long ball passer but when he does, it usually finds its mark with a 94.5% accuracy. Timber is one of the best progressional passing defenders in Europe and makes plenty of passes into the final third from either centre half or right back. He is the perfect defender for a team that wants to play possession football and wants defenders who are comfortable and competent on the ball.

Defensive Actions:

Timber’s tackling accuracy is low and something that will need working on. Especially since he rarely makes tackles in the defensive or middle areas of the pitch and when he does, it is not often successful. He is good at making tackles in the final third of the pitch which seems like a good thing for a team sustaining possession if he is playing at right back. He is also good at preventing players from dribbling past him and when preventing dribblers he is often successful.

Timber, while he isn’t strong at making tackles or interceptions, is very good at blocking shots and passes and seems that if he is at centre back, he would be a good sweeper and so would compliment Maguire very well. Similarly, he is 5’10” and so fails to win many aerial duals. Something that Maguire can balance out and help the young defender with. He adds a good number of qualities that United are either missing or need more of.


His dribbles per 90 stats are interesting. For a centre back, they are one of the best around. But for a fullback, they are below average. Wan-Bissaka and Dalot both make and complete more dribbles than Timber. However, his success rate is very impressive at 85%. Once again, his progressive carries stats are very impressive and even more so when compared to centre backs. However, his carries into the final third are very impressive for a centre back but well below average for a fullback. Both Wan-Bissaka and Dalot made more carries into the final third than Timber last season.

Seeing as Ten Hag normally plays with one attacking fullback and one slotting as a wide defender, this could compliment Shaw’s natural attacking threat and qualities. It also demonstrates why Wan-Bissaka is likely to stay as he is similarly a more defensive fullback while Telles, Williams and Fernandez are more attacking options.

So should United sign Jurrien Timber?

In summary, Jurrien Timber is a good young defender who is versatile and offers a lot in a possession based team. Be it as a right back or a centre back he can offer quality and competition in the United squad. The only way is up for him too; the things he isn’t as good at are the things he can improve on (other than his height). The fee should not be an issue and I think if he understands that he can certainly contest the starting positions at centre back and right back, then I’m sure he would have no issue finding game time. He would be a signing for now and for the future. A truly important and promising deal is on the cards!

Author: Arjun Handa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.