Arsenal have announced the signing of Ajax defender Jurriën Timber from Ajax. The 22-year-old defender has signed a five-year contract with the club for a fee of around £34.3m with a further £4.3m in bonuses. Timber will wear the number 12 shirt.
News of Arsenal’s interest in the Dutch defender was broken back in June by David Ornstein of The Athletic. At the time, Arsenal expressed their interest with an opening bid of around £30m, which was rejected out-of-hand by the Dutch club.
Timber had initially been of interest to Manchester United. Erik ten Hag, who had coached Timber at Ajax, had wanted to make him the club’s first marquee signing, however, United were unable to agree a deal for the player and were forced to turn to other targets.
Timber began his career at the Feyenoord academy. From there, Timber began to capture the attention of other clubs around Europe, however, he soon made the switch to Amsterdam with his twin brother Quinten.
During his time with Ajax, Timber has been an essential part of the team’s defence. Though mainly a central defender, he has also operated as a right-back.
Arsenal’s interest in the player was expressed at the end of the 2022/23 season. Given the success of Oleksandr Zinchenko as an inverted full-back on the left-hand side, Mikel Arteta has been keen to replicate the Ukrainian’s success on the other wing.
The club’s interest in Timber echoes their interest in Lisandro Martínez of the previous summer. Martínez, who eventually joined Manchester United instead, was considered one of the world’s top ball-playing defenders, with his statistics blowing his contemporaries out of the water.
According to data provided by FBREF, Timber averages around 8.62 progressive passes per-game, as well as 2.38 progressive carries per game and has a pass completion rate, per-90 of around 91.6%. Indeed, for all of these stats, Timber is in the top 1% of defenders.
For general comparison, Timber’s stats are equal to that of captain, Martin Ødegaard.
It is unclear, for now, where Timber will be playing next season. Initially, it is thought that he will be understudy to William Saliba (who recently signed a new four-year contract with the club) or will likely rotate alongside him.
However, given Arsenal’s injury woes at right-back last season, he may be seen as a viable option alongside Benjamin White. Takehiro Tomiyasu is well thought of at the club, however, his mounting injury issues means that Arsenal have begun to sound out alternatives in case.
There is also the possibility of a stint in midfield. Club-record signing Declan Rice will likely be the main starter in the position, however, like White and Jakub Kiwior, Timber is capable of filling in in midfield if the need arises.
Timber is Arsenal’s second signing of the summer. The deal to bring in Chelsea attacker Kai Havertz, was concluded at the start of the month, costing Arsenal around £65m, while a deal for West Ham captain Declan Rice is thought to be imminent.
With Timber and Rice’s arrivals, the club must pause their highly expensive summer splurge. For now, the club are focusing on outgoings, with Rob Holding, Cédric Soares, Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson, Nicolas Pépé, Nuno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lokonga all expected to depart in some capacity. Talks are still ongoing with Kieran Tierney and Folarian Balogun over their futures, while Granit Xhaka is expected to complete a move to Bayer Leverkusen before long.