Jurrien Timber was one of the first names to be linked with a move to Manchester United when Erik ten Hag was named as Ralf Rangnick’s successor at the end of last season.
The centre-back was brought up through the ranks at Ajax by Ten Hag and forged a devastating partnership alongside Lisandro Martinez at the heart of the Ajax defence.
A move never materialised, however, with Timber deciding to stay at Ajax over a move abroad. Instead, United signed Martinez and the Argentine has been one of Europe’s outstanding centre-backs this season.
Speaking recently, Timber admitted that a departure from the Amsterdam club was edging closer and closer, indicating that he may be ready for a move this year.
It remains to be seen whether United decide to reignite their interest in Timber but Jaap Stam, the United hero, has now raised one concern of Timber after Martinez’s success at Old Trafford.
“The intentions of the trainer are molded to Timber, but make no mistake: this is the Premier League,” Stam told Algemeen Dagblad, via the Daily Mail.
“There you can’t always be dominant, you have to duel much more against strikers like Harry Kane and Erling Haaland. Everyone with Lisandro Martínez was also curious about that. It turns out that he did it.
“With Timber, I just miss a certain amount of aggression – sometimes even being a little mean – in his game. That is also, for example, in giving the first blow before the real duels come. Martinez does. You can learn that too, but it has to be in you.”
The funds available to Ten Hag will dictate whether he will be able to fill all of the positions he is keen on strengthening this summer but it’s fair to assume that a striker and midfielder will be prioritised over a centre-back.
Signing a centre-back may become a priority if Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof both leave the club, however. As things stand, an exit for Maguire is far more likely.
Martinez and Raphael Varane are Ten Hag’s two preferred centre-backs but the latter’s injury problems are a real concern as he continues to battle long-term problems.
Timber’s price will have come down from last summer and that could present United with an opportunity but it’s still very early.